Reprinted with permission by Michael Torres in Real Clear Investigation
The battle for Hispanic voters is what comes to Pennsylvania City
The battle for Hispanic voters in the traditional Democratic stronghold is intensifying in Pennsylvania. Last month, the Republican National Committee opened a Hispanic Community Center in Allentown, the third largest city in the state. This is the sixth center that RNC has launched nationwide.
Allentown, once associated with the Steel and Mack Trucks, centered in the Lehigh Valley, is now a thriving area for the warehousing and logistics sectors. Politically competitive valleys have become increasingly important for statewide elections, such as the upcoming race to replace retired Republican Sen. Pat Tommy, who lives near Allentown, and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.
Now, moving into the mid-2022 cycle, the GOP hopes to build a long-term relationship with the city’s Hispanic population by proposing a community center as a gathering place for recreational activities and political activism.
“We have a very interesting Hispanic community here,” Jaime Flores, director of the Republican National Committee for Hispanic Communications, told me. “We have had a good result of Hispanic voters in the last few cycles in this area. We want to make it better, and we want to be grateful to those who have already shown interest in joining the Republican Party. “
For decades, there has been a trend of blue for Leighton County seat Allentown. Joe Biden won 7% of the vote in 2020, Hillary Clinton won 4.7% in 2016 and Barack Obama won 7.6% and 15% in 2012 and 2008, respectively. Today, Republicans believe the current economic climate offers an opportunity to close the electoral gap.
“One thing that is common in every community center, wherever you are, is the economy,” said Flores. “The economy has been very bad for a lot of people who can’t get jobs or can’t get their jobs before the epidemic. They see astronomical prices go up – gas prices, food, cars. “
The booming economy in Trump’s years was a boon for Hispanic Americans, which opened the door for a higher proportion of these voters to feel more comfortable supporting a Republican president in 2020 than in 2016.
For example, according to election data analyzed by Allentown Morning Call, Biden won 74% of the vote in two City Ward districts, both of which are about 78% Hispanic. While this may seem like a healthy victory, Hillary Clinton received 83% of the vote in those wards in 2016. Trump’s progress in Allentown was reflected nationwide. A review of Politico’s election data shows that Trump has improved its margins in 78 of the country’s 100 Hispanic-majority counties.
But some Alantown locals believe the impact of the community center will be negligible.
“It’s not uncommon for Latino people to be familiar with some conservative views,” said Yamelisa Taveras, a resident of Alantown. “But most of the Latinos I’ve encountered still have a democratic outlook on social justice.”
Taveras doubted that the RNC would use the center for anything more than a short-term campaign office.
With inflation rising and Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate surpassing the national average, however, the RNC is adamant that it will have a steady presence in the main Hispanic community across eastern Pennsylvania.
“Each RNC community center has dedicated staff who are recruited from within the community to build relationships with minority voters, register voters, communicate with voters and recruit and train local volunteers to evacuate voters during voting,” said an RNC spokesperson. Ally Carroll.
“No public relations stunt will change them [Republicans’] We have a record of working against Latino families, “said Brendan Welch, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “Meanwhile, President Biden and the Democrats have helped create more than 6 million new jobs, at lower costs for families, to invest in unprecedented infrastructure in our communities and to bring us out of the epidemic.”
The Democratic Party plans to open its own office in Allentown this spring.
Although Tavares welcomes Hispanic citizens’ competition for votes, he says both parties should focus more on including Hispanics in their positions as candidates.
“When it comes to Democrats in Leh County, the party does not represent the community at all,” he said. “It’s hard to say, ‘Yes, I’m going to give the blue vote’ when you see that the party that supports the candidates is not representing the community they want to serve.”
Michael Torres is the Deputy Editor of RealClearPensylvania. Follow him on Twitter IndMindofTorres.
The post Fight for Hispanic Voters is the first to come to Pennsylvania City at The Gateway Pond.