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GOP focus on economy, 'socialism,' hurt Democrats among Latinos in 2020, study says

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
"He Votado Hoy" stickers or I voted today at a polling place in Philadelphia, on May 21, 2019.
"He Votado Hoy" stickers or I voted today at a polling place in Philadelphia, on May 21, 2019.Matt Rourke / AP file

WASHINGTON — Two big reasons why Republicans made gains with Latinos in 2020 — and why Democrats lost ground — were the dominance of the economy in the election and the success of the GOP’s “socialism” attacks.

That’s the conclusion from the Democratic-leaning group Equis Research after reviewing polls and conducting focus groups with Latino voters.

The 2020 focus on the economy — and away from immigration — unlocked a door for Donald Trump and the GOP to make gains, Equis argued.

In 2016, for instance, 39 percent of Latino voters saw immigration as the top issue in that election, but that share dropped to 16 percent in 2020, according to one poll. By contrast, Latinos who saw the economy and jobs as Issue No. 1 jumped from 33 percent in 2016 to 41 percent in 2020.

And just listen to this focus group participant from Brownsville, Texas, who voted for Obama, didn’t vote in 2016 and then voted for Trump in 2020: “I was like, my heart doesn’t let me vote for Trump because he’s just saying this about us. It was super taboo ... if I would have said I was voting for Trump, I would have been lynched,” she said about the 2016 election.

But here were her thoughts on voting in 2020: “I’m super Mexican, but just the way [Trump] wanted to keep jobs here, and the way he wanted to promote the economy, that was something admirable. ... We were doing good as a country.”

Then there were the “socialism” attacks on Democrats. Per one Equis postmortem poll, 43 percent of national Latino voters said they were more concerned about Democrats embracing socialist/leftist policies, versus 38 percent who said they were more worried about Republicans embracing fascist/ant-democratic policies.

That gap was most pronounced among Trump Latino voters and Florida Latinos.

“If a through-line exists, it is a worry over people becoming ‘lazy and dependent on government,” Equis said when trying to explain these voters’ concerns about socialism.

Equis found other possible explanations why Latinos moved in 2020 — online misinformation, Trump’s incumbency advantage, the debates over race and policing, and the GOP owning the issue of border security.

But it sees a common theme running between the economy and socialism: Which political party better stands for the American Dream?

“Among Latinos, Democrats continue to have some natural advantages — specifically on caring more about ‘people like you’ and being ‘better for Hispanics,’” Equis said.

“[B]ut [they] are even ground with Republicans in areas that once defined their brand: valuing hard work, standing for the American Dream, and helping American workers.”

House votes to raise debt limit, hold Meadows in contempt

It was a busy night on Capitol Hill last night.

“The House passed legislation early Wednesday to raise the federal debt limit by $2.5 trillion, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature,” per NBC News. “The measure, approved in a 221-209 vote, would avoid a default and prevent another clash over the debt ceiling until after next year’s midterm elections. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to pass the bill.”

Also last night, the House voted "to refer former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for a potential criminal charge over his refusal to answer questions about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” NBC reports.

“Lawmakers passed the measure largely along party lines in a 222-208 vote. Two Republicans voted with Democrats: Reps. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois.”

Biden heads to Kentucky

President Biden today travels to Kentucky, where he will survey the damage from the tornadoes that rocked the state and killed dozens.

He delivers remarks at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

Fewer than 475: How many potential voter fraud cases the Associated Press found in a widespread investigation of voting in 2020, a number far too small to have any real effect on the presidential election outcome.

22 percent: A reminder, the share of Republican adults in NBC’s October poll who said President Biden was elected legitimately.

More than 100: How many people are unaccounted for still in Kentucky after the deadly tornadoes.

39 percent: The share of U.S. adults aged 18-36 who say they approve of Biden’s handling of his job, down from 51 percent in August, per a new poll of younger adults from GenForward.

803,055: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,512 since yesterday morning).

50,248,890: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 119,309 more since yesterday morning.)

486,574,475: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,214,729 since yesterday morning.)

55,121,533: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 681,866 since yesterday morning.)

61 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

72.1 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Federal health officials are warning that the omicron Covid variant could lead to a huge new wave of infections in America within weeks.

Incoming New York City Mayor Eric Adams is expected to appoint the city’s first female police commissioner, Keechant Sewell.

Congress is giving the Capitol Police the power to call on the National Guard and other federal law enforcement agencies in response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

As Democrats weigh whether to tackle elections/voting reform or Build Back Better, it’s once again the Joe Manchin show.