Updated May 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Inside Biden's plan to win back Latino voters

Photo illustration of Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Joe biden and downward-pointing arrows.

President Biden and his campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez. Photo iIllustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Lawrence Jackson/Executive Office of the President of the United States, Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden will enter 2024 determined to reverse Democrats' sliding support among Latino voters, in part by building on the playbook the party used with surprising success in key states during last year's midterms, Democratic officials say.

Why it matters: To Democrats, it's never been more crucial. For a decade they've been losing ground to Republicans among Latinos, the nation's youngest and fastest-growing demographic, with millions more expected to be new voters in 2024.

  • GOP support among Latinos — a complex electorate that's more than 14% of eligible U.S. voters — has increased by about 10 points since 2018. In the 2022 midterms, Republican congressional candidates won about 39% of Latinos' votes.
  • Some recent polls have illustrated Biden's challenge: His favorable ratings among Hispanics have been in the 40s and low 50s much of this year — higher than potential GOP challenger Donald Trump, but not what Biden needs.

Zoom in: The good news for Democrats is that a lot can change before November 2024 — and their success in getting Latinos to the polls in key states last year provides a model for a Biden turnaround.

  • As they did in 2022, Democrats will focus particularly on growing Latino populations in Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania — politically divided states where a strong Latino turnout can be a difference-maker, especially in the presidential race. Georgia and North Carolina also will be targets.
  • The Democratic National Committee plans to spend seven figures on bilingual ads narrated by speakers with different Spanish accents, a DNC official told Axios.
  • The DNC plans to host campaign "bootcamps" for bilingual staffers from across the country, work with Hispanic caucuses in state Democratic parties, and partner with groups such as Latino Victory and Voto Latino.
  • Biden's campaign also will include at least eight groups targeting various Latin nationalities, such as Cubanos con Biden, Venezolanos con Biden, and Colombianos con Biden.

Zoom out: Biden's team signaled a focus on Latino voters by picking the granddaughter of Mexican American labor leader Cesar Chavez — Julie Chavez Rodriguez — to lead his re-election campaign.

  • Her appointment was a milestone — but also drew attention to Democrats' need to go beyond symbolic gestures to activate Latino voters.
  • Biden's campaign "must prove that her appointment isn't just window dressing or pandering," Bloomberg's Susanne Ramirez de Arellano wrote in an op-ed piece.
  • The campaign had some missteps in its early days — initial typos on its website's Spanish page, and a launch video that drew some criticism for a lack of Latino and Asian representation.
  • Chavez Rodriguez's first task will be to "expand the Democratic candidates' presence with younger Latinos and upwardly mobile, aspirational, working-class Latinos (who) have been fleeing the Democratic Party," said political consultant Mike Madrid, co-founder of The Lincoln Project.

Between the lines: Midterm polls suggested that inflation was chief among Latino voters' concerns, and that abortion rights had jumped to as high as their No. 2 priority — a rise that began after the conservative-led Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

  • 84% of Latinos either supported a woman's right to abortion or were against the practice but didn't believe government should prevent a woman from having one, according to the 2022 Midterm Election Voter Project.
  • Abortion rights and women's health care will be a major theme for Biden in 2024 — a pitch his team hopes will resonate particularly well among Hispanic women, who tend to view Democrats more favorably than Hispanic men.

Go deeper: Listen to the Axios Today podcast, where host Niala Boodhoo and Sophia Cai discuss Democrats’ plans to win back Latino voters.

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