Efforts to Mobilize Latino Voters Increase in Georgia Senate Runoff Election

To give away bingo as a Mexican lottery cards to taco tuesdays and Parties to watch the World CupLatino voter mobilization efforts are ramping up in Georgia ahead of the second round of Senate elections next Tuesday.

Early voting is underway in many counties as Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock faces Republican challenger Herschel Walker once again, after neither candidate passed the threshold needed to win on Election Day.

Latino voters are expected to be consistent in determining who Georgia will send to the Senate.

Although Latinos make up about 5% of all voters in Georgia, “they could be that key group,” said Matt Barreto, president and co-founder of the national firm BSP Research, which focuses primarily on Democratic polling.

“If this is a 1% election, it looks like Latinos could provide that key margin,” Barreto, who has also been tracking the influence of Latino voters in contested races across the country, told NBC News.

Latino voters provided a net advantage of about 80,000 votes for Warnock on Election Day, according to Barreto. Now progressive groups like the GALEO Impact Fund Y Latin Power they seek to take advantage of that advantage in the second electoral round.

On the Republican Party side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is trying to give Walker an advantage among Latino voters through his Operation Let’s Go! Out-of-range program.

In Georgia, Latinos are the third-largest racial or ethnic group, now 1.1 million, according to the 2020 census. Nearly half live in five metropolitan Atlanta counties: Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett.

the more than 300,000 registered Hispanic voters in Georgia they are mainly concentrated in these areas. According to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, 88% of these registered voters are considered “active,” meaning they voted in the last two elections.

Dozens of bilingual pollsters from GALEO in Georgia, a nonprofit organization focused on Latino voting and civic engagement that supports Warnock, have been knocking on the doors of homes in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and handing out Lottery cards “El Pastor” inspired by Warnock, who has served as senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlantathe former pulpit of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

the "The Shepherd" Raphael Warnock lottery card.
The “El Pastor” lottery card.GALEO

“People in our community really respect pastors, so we wanted to highlight that he was a pastor,” said the GALEO deputy director. Alejandro Chavez said. The lottery card also shows Warnock with a Bible and medical bill in hand to signal his commitment to affordable healthcare. He is also accompanied by butterflies, a symbol of “Dreamers,” a term often used to describe young undocumented immigrants or recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The cards have sparked nuanced conversations between pollsters and likely voters, Chavez said. The group is also stepping up its advertising efforts on social media and on Spanish-language radio.

Chavez said GALEO has also expanded its survey efforts to two smaller counties in north Georgia, Whitfield and Cherokee, which are often overlooked because they are outside the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Even though they “don’t have large populations, they do have areas that are dense with bilingual, Latino, Spanish speakers,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to expand the electorate.”

GALEO tarpaulins.
Pollsters from GALEO, a Latino nonprofit organization, are knocking on doors in Georgia ahead of the runoff election for the Senate on Tuesday.GALEO

Georgia’s Latino voting bloc stands out for its youth. Latinos under the age of 30 make up the majority of the overall Latino electorate in the state, according to the progressive voter mobilization group Voto Latino.

Poder Latinx, a progressive voter mobilization organization, chose to go beyond polling and phone banking. On Saturday, when Argentina and Mexico met in the most watched Spanish-language World Cup group stage telecast in US history, Latinx power hosted a watch party where attendees were invited to make a promise to vote.

“A lot of our work really fits our community in a cultural and linguistic way,” said Yadira Sánchez, executive director of Poder Latinx. Combining that with more traditional voter engagement strategies helps make the electoral process less intimidating for young and new Latino voters looking to participate in runoffs and beyond, she said.

In addition to having dozens of pollsters and phone bankers trying to appeal to Latino voters in the Atlanta metro area, Poder Latinx had several events scheduled throughout the week, including Taco Tuesday to the polls as well as others aimed at Latina voters and young voters at Georgia State University.

The group also released a public service announcement featuring Latina superheroine La Borinqueña, who is Puerto Rican, encouraging Latinos to vote early. He also plans to release another PSA featuring Chicano band Las Cafeteras with a remix of the classic hit “Georgia on My Mind.”

Ahead of the Senate runoff elections, Voto Latino identified 175,000 Latinos in Georgia who are young, low-propensity voters who participated in the most recent election. Their participation could be crucial to increasing Latino voter turnout in the second round of the elections, said María Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino, during a call with reporters two weeks ago. (Kumar is also a contributor to MSNBC; MSNBC and NBC News are part of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast.)

The group is reaching out to these Georgia voters through a campaign to get them to vote that includes sending text messages, as well as digital and radio advertising, according to Kumar.

On the Republican side, Juan Arias, the NRSC’s Hispanic press secretary, told NBC News in an email that Operation ¡Vamos! has 15 full-time employees in Georgia who help with efforts to get Hispanic voters to support Walker.

“Latinos are excited for the runoff,” Helder Toste, NRSC director of field and coalitions, said Saturday on Twitter ahead of a Walker campaign event in Georgia.

Throughout the midterm election cycle, the group reached out to more than 200,000 Latino voters in the state and attended more than 20 events specifically geared toward Hispanic voters, Arias said.

David Casas of the popular conservative group The FREE Initiative Action in Georgia aims show Hispanic voters the differences in economic policy between Walker and Warnock.

LIBRE spokeswoman Ciara Kennedy-Mercer said in an email Wednesday that the group plans to do this primarily through digital media and advertising, as well as social media “to highlight how Herschel Walker’s political positions would be better to generate economic growth and opportunities.

“Besides, we’re knocking on doors with Americans for Prosperity-Actionanother grassroots conservative group, Kennedy-Mercer said.

Barreto described Georgia’s Latino vote as “a major coalition, allied with black voters. Black voters are the dominant group, who can determine the outcome of the election because they are so numerous and vote overwhelmingly Democrat.”

But Latinos are “providing that critical extra margin in these 1% margin elections,” he added.