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Republicans pushed hard for the Latino vote in Nevada and Florida, to mixed results

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk about more - let's talk about the election more now with Maria Urbina, who was an adviser to the late Nevada Senator Harry Reid and now managing director at Indivisible, an organization that tries to elect progressive leaders. Welcome.

MARIA URBINA: Thank you so much. Good to be with you.

INSKEEP: OK. So Republicans pushed very hard for the Latino vote, specifically in Nevada. And I do see Republican Adam Laxalt, at the moment, leading that uncalled race. Does it look to you that Republicans did make inroads among Latinos?

URBINA: I mean, it's early to say, but Latinos are 20% of the electorate. Catherine won them over by 29 points in 2016. And according to the national midterm voter exit poll, Nevada Latinos are still demonstrating support for Democrats - 64% to Republicans' 34%. So, you know, well, I'm definitely waiting on those mail ballots just like everyone else is. But if Catherine hangs on - if Senator Cortez Masto hangs on, she will have hung on because Latinos were with her and were part of her margin of victory.

INSKEEP: There is in the long term, though, a huge difference between Democrats getting 70% of the Latino vote, 60% of it, 55%. They can win it and still lose ground against Republicans. When you look across the country, do you see Republicans making gains, particularly in places like Florida?

URBINA: So I would pull Florida out because Democrats really aren't investing there and organizing to court that community, and so there is a gap there. I mean, many folks look to Florida as a red state now and not so much a swingy, purple one where they're really competing for this vote. The other reason I'd pull Florida off is because it's a really unique Latino electorate. It's composed of traditionally Latinos who lean Republican already - Cubans, Venezolanos - and so I would say that does - that kind of overrepresents or overindexes in a direction that doesn't reflect the broader Latino electorate across the country.

Democrats are still getting 2-to-1 support from Latinos across the country, and so there really wasn't that shift that folks were predicting we would see again. No one's really talking anymore about some of those Texas races, but some of those Texas races that a lot of the pundit class talked about in South Texas - Democrats held on there, right? And so I think that was another place that folks used to sort of, I think, overrepresent this shift.

INSKEEP: Let's take a second...

URBINA: But what is true is Latinos are already proving to be an influential bloc...

INSKEEP: Let's take a second and remind people what happened...

URBINA: ...For Democrats and expect to be courted.

INSKEEP: Let's take a second and remind people what happened in South Texas. They didn't do very well - Democrats didn't do very well there in 2020. You're saying they invested and improved. Got about 10 seconds - is that right?

URBINA: Yes, they did. They invested and improved and held on, with Latinos supporting Democrats there again.

INSKEEP: Maria Urbina with the progressive organization Indivisible. Again, we're waiting on final House and Senate results - both houses still up in the air. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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