Among the Democratic victories from this year’s midterms was the election of Gabe Vasquez in New Mexico, who defeated GOP incumbent Yvette Harrell. The win flipped the seat back to blue and ousted the lone Republican to represent the state in the U.S. House.
In another crucial win for Democrats there, Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez beat back Republican challenger Alexis Martinez Johnson and won nearly 60% of the vote. Fernandez made history in 2020 as the district’s first Latina representative, succeeding Ben Ray Luján, who left the House to run for Senate.
A popular narrative has been that Republicans have been making major gains among Latinos in regions including the borderlands. But it’s Latino voters who helped secure these Democratic wins, expert pollsters said.
RELATED STORY: Red wave? Latino Democrats made major wins in state and congressional races
“Early voting turnout data suggests Latino voters were crucial in flipping the Republican district and electing Democratic Latino officials in the nation’s most heavily Hispanic state,” NBC News reported. Matt Barreto, co-founder of the firm BSP Research, told NBC News that "the Latino voting bloc was not just influential, but decisive" in Vasquez’s race, who won over the incumbent by 1,300 votes.
Latino voters, meanwhile, gave him a nearly 40,000 vote net advantage, Barreto said. In Fernandez’s race, she had an advantage of nearly 30,000 votes.
“Barreto emphasized that final voter turnout won't be known until at least another week,” the report continued. “But six days after the election, Latino voter turnout for both New Mexico's 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts appear to be matching the record-breaking levels achieved in 2018.” He told NBC News that’s “a big, big deal to sustain that for two midterm elections in a row.”
We also know Latino voters were decisive in next door Arizona, where Democrats Katie Hobbs and Mark Kelly defeated their MAGA Republican opponents.
“In the large sample Midterm Voter Election Poll of Arizona Latinos who voted in 2022, Latino voters in the state provided the following critical margins to winning Democratic candidates,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice noted Tuesday, with Hobbs defeating Kari Lake 62-36% and Kelly defeating anti-immigrant creep Blake Masters 67-32%.
Yes, there’s more work that needs to be done in terms of Democratic outreach to Latinos, but reports that they’re leaving the party en mass for the GOP are greatly exaggerated. Nearly two-thirds nationwide voted for Democrats. In Pennsylvania, Latinos went for Democratic candidates by margins even larger than those in Arizona. A Latino Democrat ousted Republican incumbent Mayra Flores in Texas. Of course, Florida is an outlier.
Latino voters also helped keep the U.S. Senate in Democratic hands following the victory of Catherine Cortez Masto. The senior senator and her campaign had in the closing days of the election reiterated that Latinos, particularly Latina voters, would be her pathway to another term. Univision polling ahead of Election Day had shown her with a massive lead among Latinos, leading Big Lie proponent Adam Laxalt by more than 30 points.
“Nevada voters delivered the Senate majority to Democrats and helped safeguard our democracy by re-electing Senator Cortez Masto,” tweeted Indivisible Managing Director Mari Urbina, a veteran Reid adviser (and he certainly knew something about winning Latino voters). “Latino voters showed up for the first Latina U.S. Senator and proved once again that there is no path to victory in Nevada without Latino support.”
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