To: Interested Parties

From: Ben Monterroso, community leader and senior advisor of Poder Latinx; Vanessa Cardenas, former senior advisor for the Biden campaign

Date: 01/20/22

Re: Latino voters need to hear about the economy, climate

Everybody wants to be an oracle when it comes to the Latino vote in 2022. People boldly make predictions about what candidates and which issues will be pivotal to Latino voters when we haven’t even passed the first month of the year. Republicans have even rushed to create Latino community centers, where they think coffee and pastries will replace real policy and significant legislative action that can actually help millions of Latinos around the country. 

As leaders and professionals in this space, here is what we know from our decades of work with Latino voters: people vote when they feel listened to. No one can claim for sure how Latinos will vote after two years struggling with an overwhelming pandemic. But if you look closer there is one theme they want to hear politicians talk to them about: an uneven and unpredictable economy. In late 2020, Pew Research Center poll showed “about eight-in-ten Latino registered voters and U.S. voters overall rate the economy as very important to their vote”.

Here is what is on Latinos minds:  how many of their businesses have closed, while others have barely stayed afloat. How many of their friends and family have lost work they haven’t recovered or had to leave their jobs and focus their time as caregivers. 

This is reality for millions, and so far Democrats and Republicans are perceived similarly when it comes to the perception Latinos have about the economy. So what makes the difference now, 10 months before midterm elections? Actions. Legislation that can create jobs, help businesses in their day to day expenses, and support Latino families who are struggling. 

Democrats took action when they passed the Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives at the end of last year, with no Republican support at all, with ZERO Republican votes. House Democrats passed a piece of legislation that will create good paying jobs, cut pollution fueling climate disasters, lower energy costs for working families and begin to bring justice to communities on the frontline of climate change. 

The Build Back Better Act includes a transformational clean energy tax credit package, providing a firehose of investments to innovators that put our clean energy economy into hyperdrive, supported by Fortune 500 CEOs and entrepreneurs alike. Now waiting on the Senate to move forward, this legislation is at a critical moment. While Democrats keep fighting to deliver a sustainable better economy for all of us, Republicans are staying on the sidelines, hoping everybody excuses their inaction with empty promises of a better future, where a better economy means favoring big oil and gas companies at the expense of frontline communities’ health.

But while Republicans hope everything stays the same, Latinos are hopeful and see the Build Back Better Act as a way to improve economic growth and create jobs. An overwhelming majority (87%) of Latinos support legislation creating additional jobs in clean energy like in the wind and solar industries, and 86 percent support a legislative package that provides tax incentives to make clean energy sources available at lower costs.

So, thinking about this next 10 months, what’s unacceptable is to have candidates reaching out at the last hour with empty promises. Now it’s the time where they should listen and explain what they will do to improve the economy for millions of Latino families. How they will create jobs, increase savings, avoid the volatility of energy prices derived from fossil fuels, while mitigating the impact of climate change. 

Voters will remember those members of Congress who claim to care about the economy, while staying indifferent when a real opportunity comes, one that will make a meaningful difference in Latinos’ lives. It’s time for action, not for empty gestures, that is how we get Latinos to the polls.