Will it cost him and his party in the future?
By Edgar BELTRÁN
The website had many mistakes that a native speaker—or even someone who speaks Spanish as a second language very well—would notice immediately. It said “agrega tú aplicación a nuestro banco de talentos,” which would mean “add you application” instead of “your application.” Plus, “banco de talentos” is a word-by-word translation of “talent bank” but it is not really an expression in Spanish.
What happened is obvious: The Biden campaign didn’t think this was important enough to pay a few hundred dollars to a professional translation company. I work as a translator, and by looking at the amount of content and tabs, I know that they could have easily found a three- or low four-digit bid for such a task.
The campaign website disaster may not be very important in the grand scheme of things, but it shows how little regard the Biden campaign and, by extension his administration, has for Hispanic Americans. Democrats take Hispanic voters for granted. Because they think they can get away with it. That should be an opportunity for Republicans.
A seismic shift seemed to start in the Hispanic vote in 2020. Support for Biden fell to 61 percent, from 69 percent in 2016 for Hillary Clinton. The 2022 midterms had similar results, but with significant Republican gains in Florida. While most Hispanics continue voting for Democrats, only 40 percent approve of Biden, according to recent polls. And in two-and-a-half years in power, the Biden administration hasn’t learned from its mistakes yet: Biden playing “Despacito” in his campaign; the repeated use of “Latinx” by Democrats despite Latinos of all ages, ideologies, and origins, hating the term; Jill Biden’s botched attempt at speaking Spanish—and saying Latinos are as unique as a “breakfast taco and a bodega.”
Biden won the 2020 election and had one of the best midterms for a sitting president in the last few decades despite losing votes among Hispanics. And despite an absolutely atrocious two first years of his administration, he lost only an additional 1 percent among Hispanics in the 2022 midterms. So, perhaps he doesn’t feel like he needs to change his approach. He can take Hispanics for granted and keep on winning for the foreseeable future.
But the narrative of a shift among Hispanic voters toward the GOP has gained strength since the 2020 election. Even better, this shift seemed to challenge conventional wisdom, which indicated that the GOP had to soften its positions on immigration to win Latinos. If anything, under Trump, the GOP radicalized even further—and improved its numbers with Hispanic voters. It seems that the Hispanic base the GOP has developed is much more attracted by the new right, populist brand of conservatism than old-school Reaganism.
GOP Hispanic outreach has also improved in the last few years. Republicans have more Hispanic candidates, have invested in community centers, and have a larger number of Spanish-speaking aides. In Florida, the GOP has focused on its ground game, which allowed Republicans to win heavily Latino counties such as Miami Dade in the midterms.
The GOP suffers from the same issue with Hispanics it suffers with all voters: It does not have a cohesive project, an idea of the American nation, or a clear guiding policybook beyond not being woke and reducing taxes. Some individual politicians might, and there are some populist impulses pointing to a clearer political vision, but the GOP as a whole does not have a positive plan to present to Americans. Making your whole brand a negative (anti-woke, anti-Biden, anti-socialism) was not enough in 2022. It will hardly be enough in 2024 and beyond.
The Hispanic poverty rate in the United States dropped by 40 percent between 2010 and 2019, and a significant share of new small businesses are founded by Latinos. Hispanics make up large swaths of law enforcement, first responders, and border patrol officers. A mix of law and order, strong borders, and pro-American-business populism is the kind of message that the GOP can sell to Hispanic communities. If the GOP wants to be the party of the multi-ethnic working class, as Senator Marco Rubio has put it, it must offer a populist working-class message. If not, Democrats, with their broken Spanish and laughable stereotypes, will continue to be able to take Latino voters for granted.