On Tuesday, millions of Latinos voted, many for the first time, and were vital in Democrats taking over the House of Representatives. We’re part of the majority of Americans who are tired of the politics of division and hate. Here’s a look at three key takeaways on the Latino vote from the 2018 midterm election results.
Latino, minority voters helped drive Democrats’ gains in U.S. House, experts say #ElectionResults2018 with @LatinoDecisions @realMABarreto @CesarJBlanco @TexasHouse @UCLAlatino @JMurguia_Unidos @WeAreUnidosUS @Betsyfranceschi @HispanicFed @dccc @TomPerez https://t.co/0j8zrPEt3T
— NBC Latino (@NBCLatino) November 7, 2018
Hispanic voters backed candidates who value issues that benefit all of us, like protecting health care, creating better jobs, and a more sensible immigration system.
We’re also looking at the most diverse Congress in history, with a record number of Latinx, Black, women, Muslim, Native American, and LGBTQ Americans elected. Several of the candidates who have stood with Trump’s hateful policies went down in defeat.
This was our chance to show what we will and won’t stand for, and we were heard loud and clear.
1. Latino voter registration and engagement were up
This was a significant election for Latinos, and not just because it was a referendum on the onslaught of racist rhetoric thrown at us for the past two years. An unprecedented number of Latinos and Latinas ran for office around the country. Instead of just being expected to vote against the language of hate, we voted for something: a more diverse Congress that reflects the face of a rapidly diversifying population.
We also saw that Latinos didn’t want voting to become a solitary action: 67% of Latinos polled the night before the election reported that they also urged friends and family to vote.
- See the full results from the 2018 American Election Eve poll
That vigor for our civic duty is at the heart of UnidosUS’s voter registration work. Our Power of 18 campaign was one of the largest Latino-led voter engagement projects in the nation and registered more than 80,000 new voters this cycle. Overall, we’ve registered more than 700,000 voters in the past decade.
— UnidosUS (@WeAreUnidosUS) November 7, 2018
2. Attacking Latinos won’t win you a seat
Based on the same poll, 89% of voters said it was important to reject attempts by politicians to sow fear among immigrants and minorities. And if the resounding defeat of anti-immigrant candidates like Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania, Corey Stewart in Virginia, and Kris Kobach in Kansas is any indication, most voters agree.
Anti-immigrant candidates across the country fared just as poorly; Latino and other voters are tired of the fearmongering. They showed that what matters most to them are bread-and-butter issues like health care, education, and jobs.
Despite the spin coming out of the White House, the Republican Party really has some soul-searching to do if it doesn’t want to divide its base even more, especially in the suburbs, which used to be reliable GOP strongholds.
Candidates who continue to tie themselves to Trump’s anti-immigrant actions and words will increasingly find themselves voted out of office. There’s no future in White nationalism, clear by the fact that it goes against what most Americans are voting for and our values as a nation.
3. Don’t count on our vote. Earn it.
Latinos showed up this year, but it wasn’t thanks to great engagement from candidates. Based on the election eve poll, only 53% of respondents were approached by a campaign, candidate, or organization about voting.
If candidates want Latinos to turn out at the ballot box and vote for them, both parties need to make much more genuine efforts to court Latino voters, address their day-to-day concerns, and earn their support. That means consistent and meaningful outreach, not just appearing suddenly during election cycles.
Even though they didn’t always win, the candidates who made meaningful efforts to reach out to the community—like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida, and Beto O’Rourke in Texas—were rewarded with higher turnout.
The momentum of the past few years has made the Latino vote as strong as it’s ever been. We’re here and we’re engaged. If neither party reaches out to us, they’re only putting their seats at risk.