Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority in the United States and the GOP has had some success courting their votes.
In Pennsylvania, the Republican National Committee has been expanding its ground game in the Hispanic community. The RNC has an active presence in the Philadelphia area, Reading, and the Lehigh Valley, places where the Latino population has grown.
Last fall, the RNC held a national week of training and Hispanic Heritage month observance in Allentown so volunteers could learn how to register and mobilize voters in those communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
“Almost 18 percent of the population in this country is Hispanic, and in the last election cycle 13 percent of the vote were cast by Hispanics,” said Jaime Florez, director of Hispanic communications for the RNC. “So, Hispanics are a very important community and they have very particular links with Republican values and ideas and principles, particularly what has to do with family, what has to do with freedom, with opportunity.”
“The GOP has seen some gains among Hispanic voters in recent years in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. “There are a variety of factors behind the shift, with views on economics and some social issues playing a role. A solid majority of Hispanic voters still align with the Democrats and that is likely to remain the case in the near future. But if the GOP can cut into the margin, it can have major effects on election outcomes.”
According to a recent PBS/Marist poll, only 33 percent of Hispanics approve of Joe Biden’s performance, while 65 percent disapprove.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump won 38 percent of Hispanic voters in 2020, a 10-point increase from 2016. And in Reading, Trump received 27 percent of the vote, an 8 percent increase from 2016, which accounted for 80,000 net votes between 2016 and 2020.
Economics might be a reason for the jump.
During the Trump administration, Hispanic Americans experienced record low unemployment. Its unemployment rate hit several record lows in 2019, including falling below 4 percent for the first time in history.
The median Hispanic American income rose by $1,786 during Trump’s first year in office.
“We just want to offer Hispanics the opportunity of being a part of the party that really is their home in this country,” said Florez, an immigrant from Colombia. “So it is important for us, of course. It is important for everyone.”
The Hispanic population is not only the largest minority in the U.S., but it is also growing the fastest, Florez said.
“We’re targeting every Hispanic community in the country,” said Florez. “We’re working in every possible way to reach Hispanics all over the country. We did that in the last election cycle and we’re doing that with a multi-million dollar investment from the Republican National Committee.”
It is using advertising venues such as billboards and social media, he said, as well as other advertising media.
“We’re sending press releases every single day to all the Hispanic media we have on our list,” he said. “And we’re always available for interviews or comments.”
“And we’re doing very well,” said Florez. “Before the election in November we did work with our friends in Virginia and we were able to get some updates published…before the election for governor, a couple of months ago, and we keep doing that everywhere, where ever is necessary.”
“Hispanic voters are very concerned with the turn to the left that we are seeing in this (Biden) government,” he said. “Most Hispanics, including myself, came to this country fleeing those liberal, left-wing ideas that were introduced in some of our countries…Some of those ideas and policies were introduced in those countries. That doesn’t make our countries grow. On the contrary, the economy was destroyed by those ideas and we don’t want that to happen in this country.”
“Sadly, we’re seeing some of the things we came fleeing from, like empty store shelves, and large inflation and the capability of the acquisitive power of our salaries getting smaller and smaller every day…All those things we’re seeing now, Hispanics reject heavily. We came here for freedom. We came here for opportunity. We came here for a chance to make our lives better. We didn’t come here to get anything for free,” said Florez.
Conshohocken resident Chris Mundiath, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Pennsylvania, agrees with Florez.
“The Hispanic community is generally conservative by culture,” said Mundiath. “We are pro-life, family oriented and, like everyone else, come here because we want to find good paying jobs, start a business, go to college or earn good money through trade school. Democrats believe that by putting Hispanics on welfare we are better off, while Republicans believe that we have the ability to move up on our own accord.”
“Today’s Democratic Party is moving further to the left, are becoming increasingly anti-police, but people don’t leave their dangerous cities in Honduras only to come to a city like Philly for example, to find that the city here is no different than back home, because of someone like Larry Krasner,” said Mundiath. “People don’t leave Argentina to escape high inflation, only to come to the U.S. and find the same thing. And people didn’t leave Cuba to make the U.S. more socialist. We want to live in a free market economy and get where we want to be on our own accord, with minimal interference with our lives from big government.”
Florez said, “So we’re really are very concerned, with what’s happening now. And that’s one of the reasons why Hispanics are moving from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.”