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Two Georgia Senate races in early January will decide what party controls the U.S. Senate. Photo:Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images
Two Georgia Senate races in early January will decide what party controls the U.S. Senate. Photo:Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

The role of Latinos in Georgia’s runoff elections

The answer to flipping the Senate could be the Latinx electorate, but only if we learn from our mistakes.

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After the Latinx demographic proved how decisively it could turn the election in key battleground states during Election Week, voter advocacy groups and campaigns wasted no time to hit the ground in Georgia once it became clear runoff elections would be necessary to decide both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.

Just as they were over Election week — through drawn-out ballot counts followed by recounts ordered by the President — all eyes remain on Georgia.

Control of the U.S. Senate will be decided by the two runoff elections, which is crucial to give President-elect Joe Biden the mandate needed to enact his vision for the next four years. 

Republicans currently hold the majority at 50-48.

If incumbent Georgia Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler hold their seats, the GOP will maintain control and therefore greater ability to block Biden’s agenda and proposals from the Democratic-controlled House.

But Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff may not be the underdogs they appear to be at first glance. That’s especially after their party’s presidential nominee won Georgia for the first time in nearly 30 years.

It’s a shift that could further deepen the historically Republican state’s foot in the Democratic party. But there are several mistakes that could be made, the same mistakes made in Texas and Florida in regards to the Latinx electorate. 

This includes underestimating the deeply nuanced diversity within the demographic, and not putting in the outreach necessary to appeal to this group of voters which, while small could prove to be the margin of victory — or loss. 

Yes, Biden narrowly won Georgia in the presidential election, but this isn’t necessarily a reliable indication of Democratic strength in the upcoming Senate races.

Recent polls show a tight race, with some firms even displaying a race that is virtually tied — with Warnock one point ahead of Loeffler, 49 to 48%, and Ossoff and Perdue tied at 49%.

Polls aren’t historically reliable in recent years, either, but if Democrats want to flip the Senate, someone needs to widen the margin of victory. 

Georgia’s Latinx electorate — composed of 300,000 eligible Latinx voters that identify as neither Democrat nor Republican — is Biden’s answer. According to Chuck Rocha, a top campaign strategist, victory can only be achieved through investment in the state’s grassroots organizers. 

The voter-advocacy of Stacey Abrams showed the nation what was possible. Her unprecedented grassroots voter registration and mobilization efforts, largely supported by Black women delivered Georgia to Joe Biden. 

Latinos can be the same should they follow the same blueprint. Already, voter advocacy groups like Mi Familia Vota proved how pivotal their impact can prove to be in the now-blue state of Arizona. Over the Thanksgiving weekend alone, the organization registered over 100 voters.

According to Rocha, Georgia’s runoffs present a huge opportunity for Democrats, because, “the unique nuances of Latino voters in Texas and Florida, who are culturally distinct from elsewhere, are not present to the same extent in Georgia.”

Not only are the Latinx roots in Georgia not as diversified, but they also hold on to values that Democrats are targeting to gain their favor. 

This is important, as one mistake Democrats made in the Presidential election, especially in Texas, was considering the Latinx vote as theirs already, without including Latinx voters in the conversation through dedicated outreach. 

Mobilization focused on Latinos will be critical to swing Georgia.

Relative to Georgia’s other demographics, the Hispanic population only continues to grow. This is a dialogue that can’t be dropped after the Senate races if it’s one both parties wish to foster and strengthen in the years to come.

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