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How to Reach Latino, APIA and African American Voters? Listen to the Experts Who Do the Work

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Marisa Franco: “This vicious cycle of writing off Latinos as infrequent voters — and then blaming us for election outcomes and using that to justify inaction on issues that matter to us — must end.”

 Latinos, Black voters, and AAPI voters were part of the multiracial majority that recoiled in response to Trump’s racism and xenophobia and were critical to delivering the presidency to Joe Biden. But many are questioning whether or how the Democratic Party and aligned groups might do a better job of reaching, mobilizing and delivering for these essential components of the Democratic coalition. 

Listening to those closest to the work of engaging voters of color is critical. Many argue that sustained and early investment in such groups is the best way forward, and much better than, as Thomas Kennedy of UWD Action call it, the “boom-and-bust cycles which ignore communities like ours in Florida year-round.”

See below for some key voices and some recent coverage.

New York Times op-ed by Marisa Franco, director of Mijente, “This Election, Latinos Sent a Warning Sign to Democrats

“Latinos were a major factor in Democratic victories in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. And in cities where Black voters broke hard for Mr. Biden, Latinos helped expand the margins, going 75 percent for him in Philadelphia, 77 percent in Milwaukee and 75 percent in Gwinnett County, Ga., according to exit polling from U.C.L.A.’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative … Demographic changes have led to projections that Arizona would turn blue, but without organizers mobilizing voters and engaging Latinos in continuing campaigns, the shift would not have happened at this pace and scale. Local organizations and labor unions have also contributed to this shift in Nevada and Colorado, and they are critical to maintaining these advantages moving forward … too often in political campaigns, communities of color are prioritized late, if at all … This vicious cycle of writing off Latinos as infrequent voters — and then blaming us for election outcomes and using that to justify inaction on issues that matter to us — must end.”

Thomas Kennedy of United We Dream Action in Melanie Mason’s Los Angeles Times story, “Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election with this coalition”

“‘Republicans are making significant investments in outreach to the Latino community in a very targeted and culturally competent way,’ said Thomas Kennedy, Florida coordinator for United We Dream Action … ‘It’s time for Democrats to fully invest in communities of color instead of these boom-and-bust cycles, which ignore communities like ours in Florida year-round.’”

Vox story by Li Zhou, “What we know about who Asian American voters supported in the election” 

Ultimately, if Democrats want to keep their edge with AAPI voters, campaigns must continue to invest in meaningful outreach with members of the AAPI community and address their top priorities. As the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country, AAPI voters are increasingly poised to play a pivotal role in elections, including Georgia’s Senate runoffs in January…With a quarter of AAPI voters identifying as independent, according to a 2020 AAPI Data survey, it’s evident that Democrats need to maintain longer-term engagement with members of the community if they want to expand the support they saw this year.”

PBS NewsHour Ivette Feliciano with Cherrell Brown “Black and brown voters pulled Dems across the finish line—what are their priorities?

“I’m not one for empty platitudes. The Democratic Party owes a great deal to the Black electorate. And it’s time to pay up that tab,” Cherrell Brown added, “There will be a number of articles that praise Abrams, that praise Black and brown voters, but whether that translates into actual material benefits for those same communities is still the question.”

Community Change President Lorella Praeli in The Nevada Independent story by Savanna Strott and Tabitha Mueller, “Polls show how Latino voters helped drive Biden win in Nevada, though Trump gained ground since 2016” 

“…it’s a diverse coalition of younger voters and people of color who helped push Joe Biden over the edge in Nevada and nationwide…With Trump’s gains among Latino voters across the country, notably in Florida and Texas where Trump won and even in Nevada where Biden prevailed, organizers again pushed back against the myth of a monolithic ‘Latino vote’ and emphasized the need for diverse and targeted outreach after a history of inadequate efforts from campaigns … Lorella Praeli, president of Community Change Action, an organization seeking to empower low-income people of color, said in the Election Eve poll briefing that campaigns must make early and substantial investments into Latino outreach because there are no shortcuts to getting votes from the diverse Latino community. ‘You can’t overgeneralize our community. You need to understand that we are different in New Mexico and we are different in Nevada and different in the state of Florida,’ she said. ‘That is the work of actually unpacking and understanding our electorate.’”

Wisconsin Watch by Anya van Wagtendonk “‘Proud of my city’: Turnout down, but Milwaukee’s Black voters leapt hurdles to vote”:

“Henry Fernandez, principal at the African American Research Collaborative, a polling firm, cautioned against overstating [a shift among Black voters to Trump]. ‘Neither rappers in my age group nor polls that under-sample black men should be used to get the pulse of the Black community,’ he said. Black men comprise ‘the second most progressive voting bloc in America; only Black women perform better for progressive and Democratic candidates, with 92% of black women supporting Biden,’ he said. ‘Black men, Black women and other people of color, were the only reason this election came out the way it did,’ he said.”