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Biden’s withering Hispanic support met with Republican faith-based outreach | News

By February 18, 2022COVID-19

President Joe Biden’s inability to reconnect with Hispanic voters has encouraged Republicans to capitalize with stepped-up faith-based outreach.

And with the Republican National Committee borrowing from the playbook of conservative organizations such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Democrats may face the fallout as soon as March 1, when Texas convenes its 2022 midterm primary elections.

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Hispanic faith leaders are increasingly engaging with political issues after the 2020 presidential contest and amid the pandemic, according to the director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Hispanic initiative, Nilsa Alvarez.

“They’re seeing a lot of the rhetoric in their community and in [American] politics right now … that is eerily similar to the type of rhetoric that led their countries either to socialism or communism in Latin America,” Alvarez told the Washington Examiner.

A dominant part of Alvarez’s strategy is organizing faith community voter registration drives, and she estimates that 99 out of 100 forms collected are for Republicans despite her coalition’s nonpartisan status.

“If Hispanics and evangelicals haven’t figured out what their vote should look like in the midterm elections, I’m pretty sure Joe Biden is helping them figure that out,” she said.

Alvarez’s work dovetails with that of the RNC, including its multimillion-dollar community center program aimed at minority voters. The RNC has launched eight Hispanic-focused community centers since the first was opened last summer in Laredo, Texas, according to spokeswoman Nicole Morales. And while four are in Texas, there are centers in Florida and Nevada, as well as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The RNC-managed community centers host events including public education seminars, private quinceaneras, game nights, and candidate forums, providing Republicans with a range of platforms to speak directly to Hispanics about the party beyond television ads, Morales explained.

“We see a lot, lot of potential that’s based on shared values with Hispanics and Republicans: pro-life, pro-family, pro-opportunity, pro-law enforcement,” she said. “We’re able to share our values and really just get to know the community members who haven’t traditionally voted Republican or just don’t really know what the Republican Party stands for.”

Morales contended that the Republican-Hispanic trend was simultaneously about Biden and Democrats’ socialist agenda.

“Democrats have always kind of taken that vote for granted,” she said. “Socialists are having a seat at the table in the Biden administration, and Hispanics, especially ones that have fled socialist countries, don’t want that.”

For Republican strategist Cesar Conda, that Latino movement toward Republicans was propelled by Biden and Democrats’ policies that have contributed to inflation, joblessness, and crime.

“The extreme woke liberalism that produces terms like ‘Latinx’ are especially offensive to Hispanic voters,” he said. “The vaccine mandates, in particular, have caused many Hispanics to lose their jobs and Hispanic-owned small businesses to shut down.”

The Republican arguments are amplified by a Quinnipiac University poll published this week in which Biden’s job approval among Hispanics is 35% and his disapproval 49%. Although those numbers are poor indicators for Biden as Democrats brace for the midterm cycle, they actually represent a stabilization after the president’s January 28%-51% approval-disapproval rating following 41%-45% last November and 42%-51% that October.

Biden’s stature among Hispanics has been eroded by his handling of the COVID-19 economy and gun violence, with respondents telling Quinnipiac pollsters that their top concern is inflation, followed by climate change and the pandemic.

But Biden and Democrats’ losses do not necessarily mean Republican gains. The same Quinnipiac poll found that only 21% of Hispanics approve of congressional Republicans, with 47% disapproving. Democrats, too, would have a 21 percentage point advantage over Republicans on a generic House ballot if the midterm elections were held today. Democrats hold a 15-point edge in the Senate.

Republicans need to act to secure the Hispanic vote, such as by talking about school choice and parental empowerment, small business tax cuts, and an anti-crime plan, according to Conda.

“Republicans should appeal to the different segments of Hispanic voters with issues like statehood for Puerto Rico and continued support for the embargo of Cuba,” he said. “There is also a growing Puerto Rican community in Pennsylvania, which is another key swing state. Our Republican candidates should embrace statehood to win these voters.”

The polling comes after complaints regarding Biden’s treatment of a prominent Hispanic Cabinet member, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who has been largely sidelined in the president’s COVID-19 response.

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“I also want to thank Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra for two things,” Biden said last week in Virginia. “One, for answering my call when I asked him to come and be the secretary — I was worried he wouldn’t — and how much he’s helped us make so much progress in getting people vaccinated, getting health insurance, and making more affordable healthcare.”

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