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GOP success with Nevada Hispanics due to Democratic disconnect, says pollster

A recent poll found the Nevada GOP Senate candidate up a stunning 8 points with Hispanics over his Democratic rival.

September 29, 2022 2:19pm

Updated: September 29, 2022 5:43pm

A pollster says that Republicans’ success with Nevada Hispanics is partially due to strong outreach but also how the demographic’s interests – economic and cultural – are diverging from the Democrats’ agenda.

A poll conducted last week by Rich Baris, Director of Big Data Poll and host of the Inside The Numbers podcast, found former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for Senate, had an 8-point lead over his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.  

When asked if the election for U.S. Senate was held that day, 49% of Nevada Hispanics would vote for Laxalt and 41% for Cortez Masto. The remaining were undecided or would choose a third-party candidate.

“Adam Laxalt has put a significant amount of resources and effort into reaching out to Hispanic voters. But there’s something much larger at play and it extends far beyond Nevada,” Baris said about Laxalt’s success via email Monday.

“Put bluntly, their economic interests and worldview are clashing with those pushed by the Democratic Party."

The rightward shift of Latinos, who historically vote Democrat, has been a topic of intense discussion among political analysts leading up to the midterms. Fueling the discourse are polls like the Wall Street Journal’s in December that found Latinos were evenly split on a generic congressional ballot and one from Quinnipiac in July that found only 19% of Hispanics approved of President Joe Biden’s job performance at the time.

Baris argues the switch is part of a much longer trend.

"People too often forget that Republicans were making enormous gains among Hispanic voters until the Great Recession, which disproportionately impacted them negatively, especially as it relates to the housing crisis and foreclosures,” he explained, referring to the economic downturn from 2007 to 2009.

Baris continued, “Under Donald Trump, Hispanics and all Americans saw their wages and buying power rebound. Fast-forward to the Biden Administration, and those economic gains are being erased again by historic increases in inflation and real wages are evaporating. Meanwhile, Democrats are more concerned with policing speech that uses offensive pronouns, redefining genders and forcing a host of new beliefs on them that are foreign to their values.”

BDP’s poll found Nevada Hispanics also preferred Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the GOP candidate for governor, over incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, but by a much smaller margin – only 3 points, 40% to 37%.

But Baris’ findings track with earlier reports that Nevada Hispanics have become disillusioned with Biden and Democrats. A July poll found Hispanics voters in Nevada would choose both former President Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over Biden.

Baris’s survey found Laxalt leading by 2 points among all respondents with 46% of the vote, compared to Cortez Masto’s 44%. This margin was in line with other polls released that same day – InsiderAdvantage put Laxalt 3 points up, Trafalgar at 4 points up and Data For Progress at just 1 point up.

Baris has been criticized in social media posts for a right-wing bias. The independent pollster has fired back by saying mainstream institutions’ own left-wing skew is to blame for inaccurate polling in recent elections, which damages the credibility of the entire industry.

“This industry is dominated by left-wingers,” Baris told the New York Post shortly after the 2020 election. “And a big, big problem is they’re trying to profile the voting behavior of people they don’t understand and may even despise.”

Voices within the left have been ringing alarm bells about their blind spots for some time.

In the months after Biden’s victory in 2020, progressive pollster David Shor warned that the Democratic Party’s focus on college-educated white liberals may have lost many them Hispanics, who traditionally sided with them, permanently to Republicans. Specifically, he pointed to how President Donald Trump had converted minority conservatives, who usually vote Democrat for cultural reasons, into new Republican votes.

“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Democrats have seriously erred by lumping Hispanics in with ‘people of color’ and assuming they embraced the activism around racial issues that dominated so much of the political scene in 2020, particularly in the summer,” Democratic analyst Ruy Teixeira wrote in December.

“This was a flawed assumption,” Teixeira added. “The reality of the Hispanic population is that they are, broadly speaking, an overwhelmingly working-class, economically progressive, socially moderate constituency that cares, above all, about jobs, the economy, and healthcare.”

Teixeira recently left the liberal Center for American Progress to the center-right American Enterprise Institute, citing how Washington’s left-leaning think tanks for caring more about diversity than class.

The midterm elections will be held on Nov. 8.