Nov 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Hispanics could make more historic gains in U.S. House

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) speaks to supporters at an election night watch party at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Bold PAC chair and U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.). Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Congress is on track for its largest class of Latino and Hispanic members in history, with at least 42 wins by Democrats and Republicans combined.

Driving the news: With many races still too close to be called as of Thursday morning, several Democratic candidates appeared to be outperforming GOP opponents.

  • Exit polling from the National Election Pool (NEP) and AP VoteCast nevertheless suggested Republicans had some continuing success eroding the Democratic Party's dominance with Latino voters by capturing around 38% to 40% of the total Latino vote.
  • Latinos in the 2014 midterms voted for Democrats in congressional races by a margin of 62% to 36%, according to the Pew Research Center.

The big picture: Currently, the U.S. House has 40 members who are Hispanic or Latino, according to an Axios review of bios, candidate statements and family histories.

  • Advocates said that number could grow by several more if Democrats hold leads in races that haven't yet been called in Oregon, Arizona and California.
  • Democrat Yadira Caraveo will be the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress.

Zoom in: Three members of the "quad" — the name given to four high-profile Latina Republican House candidates — lost to Democrats despite big pushes by the GOP.

  • Republican Cassy Garcia was defeated by moderate Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas District 28.
  • Republican Yesli Vega, a Trump-endorsed county supervisor, lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th Congressional District.
  • Rep. Mayra Flores (R) lost to moderate Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) in Texas District 34. The pair was pitted against one other after redistricting. "The RED WAVE did not happen," she tweeted after her loss. "Republicans and Independents stayed home."

What they're saying: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), chair of BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told Axios media that hype about Latina Republican candidates driving a "red wave" underestimated the extent to which voters would find some to be too extreme — including in terms of opposition to abortion rights.

  • GOP consultant Mike Madrid said 38% to 40% may be the new baseline for Republicans among Latino support, but it's not a significant realignment.
  • "There's an incremental growth trajectory to be represented in both parties."
  • Gallego cautioned against reading too much into the exit polling since he said they don't get enough Spanish speakers.

Tom Bonier, a Democratic strategist and CEO of TargetSmart, a data and polling firm, said he saw a rebound of Latino voters' support for Democrats in Texas, Arizona and Nevada and also warned against looking at exit polling this early.

Yes, but: Republicans did well among Hispanic voters in Florida.

  • The state elected Republican Anna Paulina Luna, its first Mexican-American woman member of the U.S. House.
  • Freshman GOP Rep. María Elvira Salazar easily won another term despite an aggressive challenge from state Sen. Annette Taddeo.

But, but, but: Florida's Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old Democrat, became the first member of Generation Z to be elected to Congress, for the 10th congressional district.

The intrigue: Democrats appear to have outspent Republicans in Spanish-language ads.

  • In Pennsylvania, Democrats spent $500,000 in Spanish-language ads aimed at Latino voters for Democratic senatorial candidate John Fetterman.
  • Latinos supported John Fetterman by a 3-to-1 margin, Kenny Sandoval, vice president of campaigns and partnerships with Voto Latino, said during a press call yesterday.
  • Democratic consultant Chuck Rocha said he bought the majority of Spanish-language radio ads during the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros, adding, "Puerto Ricans love baseball."

The bottom line: Latino voters still leaned strongly Democratic outside of Florida and helped Democrats in crucial races.

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