Liberal group and its PAC to drop $57M in 8 states to turn out Latino voters


As President Joe Biden tries to reverse early low polling support from Hispanics, a liberal nonprofit and its political action committee have announced plans to spend $57 million to turn out Latino voters.

Somos Votantes, the Latino advocacy group that operates Somos PAC, gave NBC News an early look at its 2024 plans to expand Hispanic voter education and participation and — on its political side — try to help Democrats win Latino votes for the presidential, Senate and House races.

Of the $57 million, $33 million will go to mobilizing Latino voters in support of Biden, as well as Democratic House and Senate candidates in eight states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin — primarily through door-knocking campaigns, bilingual paid communication and “robust” community organizing, according to the campaign plan. Its nonprofit will spend another $24 million to expand nonpartisan voter education programs, which include help in registration, information about voting and the election.

“Latinos are the biggest and fastest growing segment of the electorate with more than 4 million new voters since the last presidential election, so we want to make sure that we are reaching them in every way possible,” said Melissa Morales, Somos Votantes’ president.

Not only is the number of Latinos eligible to vote increasing to 36.2 million this year — more than 1 in 10 voters this year are expected to be Hispanic — but participation also has been up. Despite the pandemic in 2020, more than half of Latinos who were eligible to vote did so, about a 30% jump over 2016 and about double the national increase. That was lower than other groups but a high-water mark for Hispanic voters.

Biden won the majority of Latino votes, about 59%, according to the Pew Research Center. But then-President Donald Trump was able to make gains with Republicans, particularly in Florida.

Somos’ spending is on top of Democratic spending targeting Latinos in the presidential and other races and some early visibility of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with Latino voters in battleground states.

Cecia Alvarado trains young canvassers at a gathering (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)Cecia Alvarado trains young canvassers at a gathering (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Cecia Alvarado trains young canvassers at a gathering (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

On the GOP side, Alfonso Aguilar, Hispanic engagement director for the conservative American Principles Project, said his organization is devising its plans to win Latino voters this year, but expressed concerns that the GOP is lagging behind in getting that off the ground while Democrats are moving ahead with Spanish language ads and other work.

“My challenge to Republicans is, let’s move,” he said. Republicans want to go after Latino votes, he said, but “my only caution is, you have to start now. “

A focus on Nevada and Arizona

On the political side, Morales said Somos PAC, which can give directly to candidates, is planning to help persuade prospective voters to cast their ballots through ads, literature and knocking on 3 million doors in support of Democratic candidates.

Morales said about half of Somos’ spending this year will likely be in Arizona and Nevada. In Arizona they plan to knock on over 1.2 million doors in support of Biden and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who would be the first Latino senator elected from the state if he wins his potential matchup against Republican Kari Lake, a Trump supporter, one of a handful of races that could decide Senate control. Both Gallego and Lake must first win their primaries on July 30.

In Nevada, Somos plans to knock on over 1 million doors and spend nearly $5 million in bilingual paid communication to boost the campaigns of Biden and Sen. Jacky Rosen, whose re-election is also critical to the Democrats’ retaining control of the Senate.

In Nevada in 2022, Somos PAC spent about $3.3 million to defeat Adam Laxalt, a Trump-supported Republican, according to AdImpact. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the only Latina in the U.S. Senate, was re-elected, helping Democrats keep their 51-49 majority in the Senate.

In the House, Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take control. Somos Votantes’s political side opened a $1.5 million campaign aimed at Latino voters with a bilingual ad featuring small-business owners and targeting Texas Republican Rep. Monica De La Cruz and promoting the Inflation Reduction Act, signed by Biden.

Somos Votantes says it spent about $33 million in the 2020 election with much of its focus in the critical battleground states of Nevada and Arizona. Biden won Nevada and flipped Arizona, a traditionally red state that had last chosen a Democrat for president in 1996.

“Elections are really won and lost on the margins, so in order to win on the margins, we’re going to have to actually talk to those voters on the margins, including Latinos” who don’t vote often or are new to voting, Morales said.

Victor Villenueva leaves a pamphlet at the door of a Nevada voter (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)Victor Villenueva leaves a pamphlet at the door of a Nevada voter (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Victor Villenueva leaves a pamphlet at the door of a Nevada voter (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Conversations about Latino voters have centered around whether more of the electorate will vote Republican this year. Morales said it’s early and Latinos are only beginning to tune in. Thus far, she said, “we don’t see the same curiosity around him (Trump) that we saw in 2020.”

“I think there is a really good opportunity here, once our PAC program launches, to really provide the contrast between the two candidates; what is our forward facing vision for the next four years?” Morales said. “And what is the contrast of that against what Donald Trump is out there saying, where he’s really been sticking to his — even more so than 2020 — election rhetoric, the more right-wing extremism.”

Separately, BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, announced that it plans a six-figure investment in turning out Latino voters in Arizona, Florida and Texas in partnership with local organizations.

Republicans have closed several Latino outreach centers that helped them turn out Hispanic voters in 2020, first reported by the now-shuttered news site Messenger. Last month, RNC spokesperson Danielle Alvarez told Reuters that seven community centers will remain open but “minority community outreach is more than brick and mortar.”

Steve Cortes, a former Trump advisor, told NBC News the Republicans have made “remarkable” gains among Hispanic voters “organically,” without any substantial heft from the RNC or heavily funded groups. But, he said, “we are not getting as much as we should be getting, if we were more organized.”

Aguilar said that Republicans will also compare candidates’ records and that Hispanic voters are looking first at the economy, including high prices at the supermarket and for housing.

The dynamic is not right-wing extremism but actually going back to policies that preserve the American Dream, versus leftist politics,” he said.

About 22% of Latinos were first-time voters in 2020, according to Catalist, a data analysis company that conducts research for progressives and Democrats. A similar share of new Latino voters was projected for this year in a UnidosUS survey.

While Latino voter turnout is improving, in 2020 more than three-quarters of non-Hispanic white Americans voted, compared with just under 54% for Latinos, according to researchers at the City University of New York.

Somos PAC has historically received a significant amount of its money from political nonprofits, nicknamed “dark-money” groups because they don’t have to report the names of their donors, according to federal campaign finance reports.

In the past, Somos has partnered with and received funding from the Senate Majority PAC, Priorities USA and the League of Conservation Voters to help build their programs, a spokeswoman for the group said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top