tags: Press Releases

GOP Inroads With Latino Voters Clash with GOP Embrace of Nativist Agenda

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Washington, DC – A Wall Street Journal story, “Three Latina Candidates Test GOP Policies in South Texas House Races,” highlights border district GOP candidates Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), Rep. Mayra Flores (TX-34) and Cassy Garcia (TX-28) and includes confident commentary from Republicans about the GOP’s efforts to diversify its candidate ranks and increase appeals to Latino voters. But these and other GOP candidates seeking to represent heavily Latino districts face a difficult tightrope performance.  

The America’s Voice bilingual campaign, “Show Me Your Friends,” includes a focus on each of these candidates and the disconnect between their candidacies and larger Republican policies and rhetoric that would be harmful to their potential constituencies – from nativist policies, such as the GOP effort to strip DACA protections, to the dangerous GOP mainstreaming of white nationalist “replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies.

These Texas districts are critical to the GOP effort to capture the House and underscore the difficult task ahead for these candidates and the GOP.  The Republican Party is trying to walk a tenuous tightrope: hyping its plans to make inroads with Latino voters and recruiting a series of Latina House candidates in battleground districts while simultaneously promoting nativist policies and mainstreaming dangerous white nationalist rhetoric. It’s an untenable approach that is already showing signs of strain and backlash 

  • In Florida, backlash is growing against Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez for her recent comments suggesting Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) should put Cubans seeking safety from the Island’s oppressive policies on buses to Delaware in order to pressure President Biden to stop allowing asylum seekers to seek safety in the U.S. The Lt. Governor said in response to a question that Gov. DeSantis is “going to send them, very frankly, to the state of Delaware, the president’s state,” and noted that Florida will not remain “with its arms crossed.” While the Republican Party has scrambled to walk back the statement, the reality is that the GOP’s nativist policies have been targeting Cubans, Venezuelans and Colombians – who make up growing percentages of those currently seeking asylum – despite the strong support from these communities for the GOP in Florida.
  • In Texas: Suzanne Gamboa and Joe Murphy of NBC News write “In Texas, resentment builds as border crackdown ensnares local drivers,” highlighting how Operation Lone Star, part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) relentless anti-immigrant campaign, is ensnaring local Latino citizens in the crackdown, increasing traffic citations in some majority-Latino counties by as much as 400% in 2021/22 compared to a similar period in 2019/20. As the piece notes, “[Abbott] has declared 53 counties as disaster areas because of illegal immigration…Among the 53 counties, DPS data show troopers have disproportionately increased their presence in Latino-majority border counties since the pandemic began: More than half of the Latino-majority counties on or near the border saw above-average increases in troopers, while none of the three white-majority counties did.” 
  • Nationally: GOP association with white nationalist ideas ranked the top “deal breaker” among Latino voters. Republicans’ embrace of extremist anti-immigrant ideas is at direct odds with the GOP’s talk of making inroads with Latino voters. For example, recent nationwide polling of Latino eligible voters released by UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund found that Latino voters’ top-ranked “deal breaker” among 11 issues tested was a candidate being supported by white supremacists/nationalists. Meanwhile, the same poll found that 84% of Latino voters said it’s “personally important” for elected officials to condemn white supremacy.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

“Republicans are trying to have it both ways this election cycle, touting their Latino candidates and offering confident projections about their plans to make inroads with Latino voters.

Yet this same Republican Party is increasingly enmeshed with white nationalist conspiracies and a larger anti-democratic extremist ideology that is both dangerous and unpopular among Latino voters and broader swaths of the electorate. Republicans’ embrace of nativism while presenting a moderate, diverse face in heavily Latino districts will be difficult to maintain through election day. Latino voters understand firsthand the impact of Republican-driven policies to harm immigrant communities.  

As we are seeing in Florida and Texas this week, it is only a matter of time before the tightrope the GOP is trying to navigate teeters and breaks.”