by Albert Eisenberg
After this month’s historic special election win in South Texas, Republican strategists nationwide are asking themselves: how can we replicate now-Congresswoman Mayra Flores’s success in flipping an 84% Hispanic district to the GOP? Meantime, Democrats are burying their heads in the South Texas sand as Hispanic voters flee their party.
It’s not rocket science to appeal to Hispanic voters and persuade them to vote Republican. My firm’s work with the Hispanic Republican Coalition of Pennsylvania shows how to do it.
Our polling shows us that welcoming Hispanic voters to the GOP requires something fairly simple: a message on key issues, delivered in English and Spanish.
Take our recent poll of Hispanic voters in Pennsylvania’s swingy 7th and 8th congressional districts in the Lehigh Valley, a booming logistics hub, and in historically Democratic Northeastern Pennsylvania. These areas are packed with manufacturing and warehousing jobs, and workers have flocked to them. Many Hispanic families came here two generations ago for a better quality of life; more arrived in recent years from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, by way of New York City. Their concerns are those of working people: high gas prices, a baby formula shortage, and soaring crime.
A significant number of Hispanic voters here say that they’re registered Democrats who now consider themselves Republicans. In our polling, Democrats are leading the generic Senate ballot by 50-38%, with 9% of Hispanic voters undecided. If we split those undecided voters in November, the result – winning support from over four in ten Pennsylvania Hispanics – would be a sea change in voting habits, driving several endangered Democrats out of their seats and retaining the open U.S. Senate seat for Republican Mehmet Oz.
The top three issues for these voters are costs, crime, and health care. Among Hispanic swing voters, the issue of crime and law enforcement looms particularly large. Over half of respondents – including many Democrats and independents – say that they would be much more likely to vote for a Republican with “a plan to support law enforcement in our communities.” A similar majority would support a Republican with “a plan to reduce inflation and costs.” The issues of ending late-term abortion, focusing on education basics rather than political ideology, and securing our borders were also important, but they did not resonate as much as costs and crime.
Our poll also revealed significant splits within voting demographics. In addition to gaps between male and female voters and between age cohorts, the results showed that respondents who were surveyed in Spanish versus English were more heavily Democratic-leaning in Pennsylvania. By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, Spanish speakers believe that the Democratic Party shares their values – a substantially larger split than those Hispanic voters surveyed in English. Spanish speakers preferred the generic Democratic senate candidate by a margin of 75% to 19%, a 56-point split – versus just a three-point split among English speakers.
This underscores the need for Republican campaigns to translate their message into Spanish to reach these voters. In Pennsylvania, Spanish-speaking voters simply haven’t heard what the GOP has to say.
Despite these gaps, a sizable plurality of Spanish speakers still believe that the Republican Party will ensure safety and security and lower costs for their households. What has been missing from Republican campaigns, clearly, is engagement in these voters’ native language. Every voter deserves to know why the GOP is the party of prosperity and freedom from crime. That’s why our campaign is reaching Hispanic voters in two languages for the first time.
Finally, our polling provides an opportunity for GOP campaigners to reach out not only to Hispanic voters as a whole but also to women. The poll reveals a major gender gap, with women more likely to support a Democratic message and men more likely to support a Republican message. This underscores the need for human-focused stories – like those we’re running in Reading, Allentown, and Hazleton.
Some Republicans may object and say that our national language is English – why make political appeals in any other language? But we must acknowledge that a significant portion of registered voters navigate their lives largely in their native tongue, whether that’s Hindi, Korean, or Spanish. Refusing to engage them is an obvious political loss.
Hispanic voters are fleeing the Democratic Party and its woke, upper-middle class politics. But our polling shows that many still believe that Democrats, not Republicans, share their values. Republicans must win hearts as well as minds – with human stories, communicated in both English and Spanish.
Republicans have done it in South Texas, and we’re doing it in Pennsylvania. Now it’s time to take the message nationwide.
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Albert Eisenberg is a millennial political consultant based in Philadelphia and Charleston, SC. He has been featured on Fox News, RealClearPolitics, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and elsewhere. He is a MaverickPAC Future 40 awardee. Follow him on Twitter at @Albydelphia.
Photo “Hispanic America” by GPA Photo Archive. CC BY 2.0.