Amy Walter and Asma Khalid on Hispanic voters and the midterms

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and Asma Khalid of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including Republicans pushing to make immigration and the southern border a key issue and a new poll of Hispanic voters ahead of the midterms.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Less than two months until the midterm elections, Republican governors are pushing to make immigration and the Southern border a key issue. Meanwhile, President Biden and former President Trump are out making their cases for voters.

    And here to discuss it all, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Asma Khalid of NPR. Tamara Keith is away.

    Hello to both of you on this Monday to talk about so much.

    I do want to start with a rally that — Amy, that former President Trump had over the weekend in Ohio, where he was making a number of statements. And, at one point — or during the rally, there was music played which has been compared to the theme song of the extremist group — beliefs with an extreme set of beliefs called QAnon. Let's listen.

    Donald Trump, Former President of the United States: We are a nation that has weaponized its law enforcement against the opposing political party like never, ever before. We have got a Federal Bureau of Investigation that won't allow bad election-changing facts to be presented to the public.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, people holding up their hands in a symbol that — again, that seems to suggest QAnon.

    But what — where does this leave the former president as he goes out and tries to appeal to voters for the candidates he's campaigning for?

  • Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:

    That's exactly the right question. And it's one that many Republican strategists, especially strategist for candidates in so many of these swing states, Arizona, or Georgia, or Nevada, or New Hampshire, would like — if the former president comes in, they would like him to stick to a script that focuses less on 2020 and a lot more on Joe Biden and the economy.

    But how many times have we heard that from Republican strategists, who would tell us, always off the record, if only President Trump could stay on message. Someday, maybe he will be able to do it.

    But his message is for his voters. Now, the reality is, the people who made it through these primaries in these key Senate races were ones that Donald Trump has endorsed and supported. And those candidates are now trying to spend these next 50 days showing they're — basically trying to pivot away from Trump, away from the idea that they are part of this extremist group.

    They don't want this election to be a referendum once again on Trump and his views on a whole bunch of things.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But he continues to talk about these things.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Asma, you have been out on the campaign trail in recent times, in recent months.

    What do you see — how do you see these remarks and this message playing?

  • Asma Khalid, NPR:

    I mean, it is this sense, right, that we see time and again President Trump is making this midterm election not about a referendum on President Biden, right?

    We always hear that that's the case. And that's not what's happening. And I think that's much to the delight of Democrats that I talk to. There's a sense that, if this were truly just a referendum on President Biden, say, on the state of the economy, that would be a bigger challenge for Democrats.

    But every time President — former President Trump interjects, and it just — it turns the conversation away. One thing that I am sort of confused about, though, I will say, I was in Florida, the week that the Mar-a-Lago search took place. And I went to a Republican club meeting there. I was speaking with a number of women.

    And there was a sense that — perhaps more than the economy, that the search of the former president's home could really energize Republican base voters. So, I will say that, to me, is still unclear, the degree of energy that might have for Republican base voters.

    But when you talk about independents, I mean, no, I don't think…

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Asma Khalid:

    … is really energizing them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, and we will see, because that issue of what happened at Mar-a-Lago is still playing out in the courts. And we will see where that goes.

    So, there's a new poll that comes out. And we don't look at — we don't pay attention to every single poll, but this one struck us as interesting. This is The New York Times and Siena College looked at Hispanic voters, and a large group of Hispanic voters they surveyed, Amy.

    And what they — what you see should be good news for Democrats, as 56 percent say they're supporting Democrats, 32 percent Republican. On the other hand, right…

  • Amy Walter:

    Right. That's the…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … Democrats want to think they're going to do a whole lot better with Hispanics.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Amy Walter:

    They're going to win 70 percent of these voters, which is, when we were talking…

  • Asma Khalid:

    What they have done in the past.

  • Amy Walter:

    They have done in the past, certainly during the Obama era.

    And, remember, Obama his message in 2012, and — well, 2008, but it continued in 2012, was basically one of demographic destiny, that, eventually, the fact that this country is getting more — more and more folks who are coming in who — into the voting age who are Latino, that's only going to help Democrats.

    I talked to a Democratic group today, actually, who put out their own numbers on Latino voters. They're focused — they're a progressive organization focused on Latino voters. They had very similar data. Their takeaway was this. The good news is, we're not doing any worse among voters, Latino, than we were in 2020. We seem to be just sort of stuck in where things ended up in 2020.

    And the group that has moved the most, not surprising, younger men, and the economy still the biggest issue. It was a big issue in 2020. It's obviously an issue there. The other thing this person told me is, look, these voters, we assumed, for years, that, at the end of the day, they were always going to break for Democrats.

    We can't assume that anymore.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What are you hearing about this?

  • Asma Khalid:

    I agree with that.

    I mean, there's also geographic diversity, right? And you do see that Republicans tend to do better with Latino voters in both Texas and Florida, obviously, both of those being very key states as we look to the midterm election cycles.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, a lot of votes.

  • Asma Khalid:

    But — right.

    I mean, I think that there is a sense, as you were saying that, for years, Democrats had assumed that they would be able to gain a certain percentage of Latino voters. And we saw that the former president did actually better with Hispanic voters in 2020 than he did in 2016, I think, to the surprise of many Democratic analysts.

    But what I hear often from specifically young — younger Latino voters is a sense that the Democratic Party has taken their vote for granted for years, and they want greater outreach. And on the flip side, you have seen a Republican Party that is making a strong effort to court those same voters.

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, and the demographics now working against Democrats. It's younger or maybe more middle-aged, 30s to 40s, Latinos who are more-Republican leaning.

    It's actually the older voters that are the most supportive of Democrats. So, as new voters age in, that doesn't necessarily mean a good thing for Democrats.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What can Democrats say, Asma, to…

  • Asma Khalid:

    I don't know that it's always a saying.

    This is what I hear, right, that Republicans have shown up, that after, I would say, the 2020 election, they built these centers in different communities, right, to specifically court minority groups, different groups, but specifically, let's say, in certain communities, Latino voters.

    What I heard in 2016 and in 2020 from specifically younger Latino voters was the sense that Democrats show up around election cycles, and then they disappear. And there is a sense that there's not been a lack of — or that there has been a lack of investment in infrastructure and follow through on promises.

    And, look, the Biden administration came in promising comprehensive immigration reform. To its credit, President Biden did put forth something right at the outset when he came into office. But it's gone nowhere. And I think there's a sense of frustration from some younger voters who do want to see immigration reform, who wanted to see permanent status, not just a deferred action status that's been the case.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, it — I mean, this — this just echoes, Amy, campaigns I have covered, frankly, for decades…

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … with Latino, Hispanic voters saying, we're just — they come visit us right before the election.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, right.

    And African American voters too, which has soured many of those younger voters.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Amy Walter:

    But remember too this is — again, the — for the flip side, where Democrats are doing better, this Democrat said to me, look, Republicans still haven't really sold these voters. They haven't really finished or closed the deal, right, that, yes, they can get a certain percent of the vote, but there is a wall that those voters hit with the Republicans derived — a lot of it is derived from the fact they still see Republicans as the party of the wealthy and the elites.

    And there we go.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we can't forget, again, how diverse this Latino, Hispanic vote is.

  • Amy Walter:

    Exactly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is not monolithic.

    Amy Walter, Asma Khalid, thank you both.

  • Asma Khalid:

    Thank you.

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