Democrats shrinking hold on Latinos could hurt 'purple' state dream – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – For many years, Democrats have hoped that Latino voters could be the key to turning traditionally “red” states to “purple.”
Now, it’s unclear whether that will be the case.
New polls ahead of the midterm elections show Latino support for Democrats is waning – although the majority of that voting bloc still supports the party. Republicans are also making some inroads with Latino voters in states like Texas and Nevada, where Democrats are locked in tight congressional and statewide elections.
Some traditionally Democratic areas of more battleground states – like Miami-Dade County in Florida – are also seeing a shift. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading against his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist with Hispanic voters in southeastern Florida by 51% to 44%, according to a Telemundo/LX News poll published last week. Southeastern Florida includes Miami-Dade, the most populous majority-Latino county in the U.S. as of 2020.
In recent years, Latino voters helped decide elections in states like Arizona, where the bloc helped elect Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, in the 2018 midterms and 2020 special election, respectively. President Joe Biden also won the state in 2020, a state that former President Donald Trump won four years before. 
But Kelly, who is up for reelection this year, is locked in a tight race, and it’s yet to be seen whether Latino voters will show out to reelect the Democratic senator.
“Based on the most recent polling, it looks as though Democrats are not going to capture the same kind of hefty vote share of Latinos that they’ve been used to in the last few presidential election cycles,” said Gabriel Sanchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. 
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Like the majority of voters across the United States, the economy is among the top issues for Latino voters in this election.
According to Pew Research Center, 80%t of all Hispanic registered voters said the economy is very important when making their decision on who to vote for in the midterm election. When broken down by party, 90% of Hispanic Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters said the economy is very important to their vote. Three in 4 – or 75% – of Hispanic Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say the economy is very important to their vote.
Other polls also show that inflation and rising costs are also on the mind of Latino voters going into the midterm election.
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Inflation and supply chain issues were the top concern for Latino voters, according to the Axios-Ipsos poll, with 37% of respondents labeling it as a topic they find worrying.
For 31% of respondents in The Washington Post-Ipsos poll, rising prices was their single most important issue going into the election.
And the Bienvenido poll, which was conducted by WPA Intelligence and Visto Media, also showed that Hispanic voters have a poor view of the economy, with 74% of those surveyed rating it as either poor or fair and 26% saying it is good or excellent.
Enthusiasm among all voters is typically down in a midterm election year.
And this year is expected to be the same – reverting to the norms from the 2018 midterm election that saw a high level of turnout among many voter blocs, including Latinos and young voters.
Sanchez, who is also a principal at Latino Decisions, a survey firm focused on the Latino electorate, noted the 2018 election was a referendum on Trump, who had been critical of Hispanic people in the United States and was highlighting an anti-immigrant platform.
“2018 isn’t the fairest comparison,” Sanchez said. “There’s not a Trump in the air still.”
The presidential party in power usually sees a loss in seats in Congress. Sanchez said this year is no different.
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“It wasn’t going to be a banner year for Democrats – like no one was predicting that,” he said. “Looking at the numbers, it makes sense to me that among Latinos, you’re just not seeing the same really high Democratic support like you did in ’18.”
As the Latino voter electorate grows, it’s clear the voting bloc is going to be key for both Democratic and Republican parties.
“It’s probably the most important thing to both parties right now,” Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha said of Latino voters. “Because our growth is so exponential – it’s just growing outside of the big states of Florida, Texas, and California – we will become the most valued voter in the next 50 years, for the next 50 years.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_


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