Hispanic support for Democrats collapsed in 2020. Beginning of a broader trend?

Welcome to the first edition of the Hispanos Unidos Intelligencer, a weekly newsletter that gives you a quick overview of La Politica across New Mexico and the U.S., covering topics such as policy, current events, the political landscape, and tech.

In this week's Intelligencer, Democrats are betting on early Hispanic outreach to avoid repeating the 2020 collapse in Hispanic support, shenanigans in the Albuquerque mayoral race, an Australian billionaire using New Mexico as a launchpad into space, and the Permian Basin oil boom is unlike booms in the past.

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Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

1. Hispanic support for Democrats collapsed in 2020. Beginning of a broader trend?


The Democrats, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, are spending more than $1 million on 48 organizing directors around the country designed to bolster “strategic outreach and build trust” with minority communities in midterm battleground districts, including in Florida and Texas.

Details: Nationally, Biden won Hispanics by a 59-38 percent margin over Donald Trump, but that was 17 points lower than Hillary Clinton’s 66-28 percent margin in 2016, according to Pew Research Center data. The early Republican efforts by the RNC and the Trump campaign are credited with the historically large erosion in Hispanic voters' support of Democrats.

In New Mexico, a SurveyUSA poll taken June 17-21 found significant weakness in Hispanic approval of Michelle Lujan Grisham.

What they're saying: Hispanics "are a very important constituency to the Democratic Party, and it is critical for them to support the governor," said UNM political science professor Lonna Atkeson in a recent KOB story

Why it matters: Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Without their support, the coalition of voters that has propelled Democrats to victory is in danger of falling apart.

The big picture: Republicans do not need to win a majority of the Hispanic vote in order to seriously jeopardize the Democrat's ability to win elections across the country.

2. Can Sheriff Gonzales fight City Hall?

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The Albuquerque City Clerk, Ethan Watson, has declined to certify the public financing application of mayoral candidate Sheriff Manny Gonzales. Notably, only about 150 of the forms are being disputed.

According to KRQE News, “To qualify for more than $660,000 in public funding for their campaign, candidates have to prove they have community support by collecting five dollars from one percent of City voters, which is almost 3,800 people.” 

Watson, who was appointed by Mayor Keller, did not make clear whether the denial is because Gonzales did not submit enough valid contributions or another justification.

3. Despite Spaceport’s recent launch, New Mexico taxpayers are still in a deep hole.

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Dreamed up by Big Tech, Governor Richardson, and local politicians in 1990, Spaceport America at long last took a small step toward justifying mankind’s (mostly Dona Ana and Sierra Counties’) decades-long hundred million dollar investment.

Details: The space tourism company Virgin Galactic successfully launched its founder Richard Branson and five other crewmembers into suborbital space on July 11, 2021 in a milestone mission that marked the first fully crewed flight of its VSS Unity space plane.

Why is matters: By 2011, the Spaceport had cost taxpayers around $200,000,000 (yes, that’s Two Hundred Million Dollars) and has been running millions of dollars in deficits ever since. While many celebrate the event, perhaps it is time for a new study by the NM Legislative Finance Committee to calculate just how much this project has cost New Mexicans over the past 30 years.

The big picture: The Spaceport needs a lot more private investment (and many successful subsequent Virgin Galactic launches) before the taxpayer investment is not seen as a government boondoggle.

4. New Mexico oil production is increasing but oil jobs are not.

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The oil patch production has been recovering nicely from the pandemic, but the jobs in oil production have not been returning at the same pace.

Details: The pandemic accelerated a long term trend in production improvements. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released a report that shows how productivity has improved in the Permian across West Texas and New Mexico. 

What they’re saying: “The region’s oil and gas firms employ fewer people today than at the beginning of the shale oil boom 11 years ago, even as oil production quadrupled,” the researchers said.