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What we knew about Latino voters that no one else did

Rep.-elect Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.)
Greg Nash
Rep.-elect Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.) arrives for New Member Orientation at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, November 13, 2022.

Democrats won Latinos by a 2 to 1 margin on Nov. 8. They delivered Senate wins in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada and ushered in 42 Hispanic Democratic members of Congress, the most in history.

Yet in the weeks before the election, political pundits were convinced that Democrats had a “Latino problem,” writing post-mortems before the majority of voters even cast their ballots.

They were wrong. Those of us who work in Latino politics knew it. As the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), BOLD PAC has spent 21 years getting Latinos elected to Congress. Ahead of the midterm, we doubled down. 

The results speak for themselves: all 31 CHC incumbents won reelection by running on platforms tailored to Latinos in their districts, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), whose win kept the Senate Democratic. Nine new Latinos will be coming to Congress next year, including four in seats picked up by House Democrats.

So here’s what BOLD PAC — and countless other Latino organizations and operatives — knew about mobilizing Latino voters that no one else did.

First: Never stop organizing. 

Mobilizing the Latino community is a year round activity that should be led by Latinos and involve major investments. So we made historic investments in mobilizing Latinos and finding community leaders across the country to run for office and win. Take Colorado: after pediatrician Yadira Caraveo decided to run in the new 8th District, we ran a program to persuade Latinos to vote for her. She’ll now become the first Latina representing Colorado in Congress.

This story isn’t unique. BOLD PAC invested over $6 million in support of Latino campaigns this cycle, the most we’ve ever done. Our efforts were designed by Latino strategists and included direct involvement in 13 federal races. We won 11. 

Nowhere were we more successful than in Oregon’s 6th District. We recruited Andrea Salinas, an accomplished state legislator, and helped her set up a campaign fully led by Hispanics. When over $12 million in outside spending flooded in for her primary opponent, we doubled down and invested over $1 million ourselves. Despite being outspent 12 to 1, Andrea won her primary and will make history when she is sworn in next year.  

Second: How and where you say something matters as much as what you say. 

We get asked all the time “what do Latino voters want to hear about?” The not-so-secret truth is Latinos care about the same issues as everyone else: good jobs, lower costs, good opportunities for their kids. And they want their fundamental rights, like the right to an abortion. 

These issues are a core part of the Democratic Party’s platform. But how and where you have these conversations makes all the difference. Efforts to engage Latinos need to meet their reality. Latinos are on YouTube — 85 percent of Hispanic adults use the platform, which has become a place for misinformation. So that’s where Democrats need to be too.

BOLD PAC conducted an aggressive strategy to fight misinformation and energize Latinos to vote for Democrats. We launched “Ya Tu Sabes,” or “Now You Know”, a cutting edge YouTube channel of authentic Latino-focused videos. They were in English, Spanish, and Spanglish — a modern mix of the two spoken in Latino homes daily — and covered everything from the economy to abortion access. We engaged influencers as trusted voices to join the show and share our content.

Presenting political information with humor and in an authentic way was exactly what was needed to reach more Latinos, especially a younger audience. This was critical as younger voters helped deliver key victories for Democrats nationwide. People viewed our videos over 1.1 million times, and nearly half were by those under the age of 35. We ran ads in New Mexico’s 2nd District, where Gabe Vasquez defeated MAGA Republican Yvette Herrell, one of the biggest spreaders of misinformation in Congress. 

Third: Latinos are tired of MAGA extremists.

Election denying Republicans across the country jumped on the Trump autocratic train this cycle, supporting countless attempts to undermine the will of American voters. But Latinos are very patriotic, especially those originally from authoritarian countries, and rejected them. In Nevada, Latinos powered Cortez Masto’s victory against Adam Laxalt, a MAGA loyalist and election denier. 

BOLD PAC understood the importance of treating Latino voters as persuasion voters to engage with early, fully, and in an authentic way. As a result, the year that “Latinos were sliding to the GOP” became the year that elected the most Latino Democratic members of Congress.

Victoria McGroary executive director of BOLD PAC and Ruben Gallego is chairman of BOLD PAC.

Tags Catherine Cortez Masto hispanic vote Midterm elections red wave Yadira Caraveo

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