How Democrats Can Win Latinos Back (Ep. 4) | Crooked Media
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June 23, 2024
The Wilderness
How Democrats Can Win Latinos Back (Ep. 4)

In This Episode

Jon is joined by Carlos Odio and Stephanie Valencia, founders of Equis Research, the nation’s leading polling and research firm focused on the Latino electorate, to talk about what Democrats can do to win back the Latino voters who left the party for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Why are some of them leaning towards Trump? How did they react to Biden’s border actions? And what issues are they most focused on in 2024? Jon, Carlos, and Stephanie dive into the focus groups to answer these questions and Leo Murrieta, Director of Make the Road Nevada, joins to talk about his trip to the White House and offer his advice for the Biden campaign.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[AD BREAK]

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] The Trump campaign has tried in kind of a fake way to stir the pot with, you know, Brown folks, Latinos, immigrants, the coalition of conservative Brown people that he had what in 2016, they’re still there. That didn’t really grow. But we have seen a small growth in Latino men going towards, you know, this messaging. And realistically, it’s a discussion on machismo, misogyny, right. Like Trump plays into those cultural discussions and like it’s a problem. 

 

Jon Favreau: Leo Murrieta came to America when he was just seven days old. Now he’s trying to make life better for other immigrants as director of Make the Road Nevada, a nonprofit based in Las Vegas that works towards organizing immigrant communities. It’s especially important work ahead of this election. Latinos make up one in every five registered voters in Nevada, a state that Joe Biden won by just over 2% in 2020. In fact, Nevada’s the only swing state where Donald Trump did better than he did in 2016. And he also improved his margins with Latinos across the country. If that seems baffling to you, considering that Trump ran the most xenophobic campaign in modern history, you’re not alone. But Latino voters, just like all voters, have views about politics and immigration that are diverse and complicated. Take, for example, Biden’s recent action to limit the number of migrants who can seek asylum in the U.S. by crossing the southern border. Polls show the move was popular not only with most voters, but with most Latino voters. Still, most isn’t everyone. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] We’ve seen some division within the older immigrant communities, like the undocumented folks who have been here for 20, 30 years and without any type of relief or assistance. You know, those folks, may be more supportive, but if you talk to more millennial and younger folks, perhaps like DACA recipients, most folks you know, they are not in favor of this. 

 

Jon Favreau: The president and his team understand that. Which is one reason they just announced another new policy that would provide a pathway to citizenship for nearly half a million undocumented immigrants whose spouses are already American citizens. Leo was at the White House for the announcement. 

 

[clip of President Joe Biden] These couples have been raising families, sending their kids to church and school, paying taxes, contributing to our country for ten years or more. Matter of fact, the average time they’ve spent here is 23 years. People who were affected today, but living in the United States all this time with fear and uncertainty, we can fix that. And that’s what I’m going to do today. Fix it. [applause] 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] Our families,, our communities needed this win and it’s a big win. My own family is directly impacted by this, so this is very welcomed. It’s very exciting. Um. I wish it were bigger, but it’s going to impact a lot of families in a really big way. 

 

Jon Favreau: Of course, one of the biggest misconceptions about Latino voters is that they only care about immigration. The truth is, most Latinos, like most other Americans, haven’t been paying close attention to the immigration debates in Washington. In fact, their biggest concerns are similar to what we’ve heard from most other voters. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] So I think the race today for the White House is a tough one, really, for both candidates. You know, we just wrapped our primary elections last Tuesday, and the attitude is that people don’t really want to talk about it. They were talking about, you know, the economy, their economy, right. Like they were talking about the high high cost of gas, high cost of utilities, you know, groceries. All of these things were top of mind and, of course, rent. Um. You know, everyone is talking about rent and mortgages. 

 

Jon Favreau: Sounds familiar. Right? These cost of living issues are the same concerns that are top of mind for the undecided Black voters we talked about in the last episode. And once again, the advice from grassroots organizers like Leo is that Joe Biden and Democratic candidates need to do a better job making clear who they’re fighting for. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] You know, what do people talk about? Dems haven’t done anything. The Biden campaign needs to do a better job of communicating to voters and families and immigrants that they are working on their behalf, that they’ve done all these things. Like when we talk to folks about how my mother, my mother, her insulin prices every month went from $600 to $35. That’s insane. Asthma inhalers are going from, like, hundreds of dollars a month to $25 a month. Credit card payments, going after corporate greed with corporate landlords. You know, Secretary Buttigieg is going after the airlines. Who doesn’t love that, right? Like these are the things that people want to see. 

 

Jon Favreau: You might be thinking, we got plenty of time to communicate this, but even though Leo said that a lot of the voters he’s talked to haven’t brought up the 2024 campaign on their own, they’re finally starting to focus on the race. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] The truth is, they’re paying attention now. They are forming opinions now and the opinions that are forming are misinformed. They’re forming them based on misinformation. And the Biden campaign needs to step it up. They need to increase their presence in Spanish language media. They need to increase their presence on social media, with influencers, with micro-influencers, on popular culture. Like they need to be all over the map. 

 

Jon Favreau: Two people who very much agree with Leo are Carlos Odio and Stephanie Valencia, Obama staffers who went on to start Equis Research, a polling and research firm that might have a better understanding of the Latino electorate than anyone else in America. A few years ago, Stephanie went on to start the Latino Media Network, where she’s focused on how and where to reach and communicate with these voters in a media environment that’s never been more fractured. I sat down to talk with my old friends about what they’ve been hearing from Latinos in the latest Equis focus groups, and what advice they have for volunteers and organizers as we try to convince these voters to turn out for Democrats in the fall. You’ll hear our conversation next, followed by more from Leo on the type of conversations worth having over the next few months. I’m Jon Favreau. Welcome to The Wilderness. Carlos Odio and Stephanie Valencia. Thanks for doing this. Good to see you guys. 

 

Carlos Odio: Good to be back. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Dynamic duo is back again. 

 

Jon Favreau: So we’re talking this season about the most effective ways to persuade voters who we need to be part of the anti-Trump coalition, but aren’t yet sold on Joe Biden. So far, we’ve covered Trump voters who are sick of Trump, undecided Black voters, and now I want to get your insight on undecided Latino voters, since the two of you know more about this topic than just about anyone else in politics. I think it’s not possible to have a conversation about Latino voters without using the phrase, Latinos are not a monolith. [laughter] So I’ll start with this then, what political values and beliefs would you say the 36 million eligible Latino voters in America, about 15% of the electorate, have in common? And how important is identifying as Latino to these voter’s political preferences here in 2024? Stephanie, we’ll start with you. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Well, I’m going to start with kind of a broader answer. And then Carlos can talk a little bit about like the electorate and the threads that we see about the electorate. But I think that when you think about Latinos as the largest growing subgroup in the United States of America, driving growth of the population in the electorate, we’re the X factor in politics and society. And I’m a 12th generation New Mexican. My family has been in New Mexico since before it was part of the United States. Yet I can come to a place like Miami, Florida, and feel at home among Latinos, and there is somebody who can go from Miami. You know, somebody like Carlos, who grew up in Miami, whose family fled Cuba and can go to New Mexico and still feel that commonality. So there is this thread of what we call Latinidad that is common throughout um our community. And so we say we’re a nation divided but united by many beans. Or Carlos is going to fix the way that that terminology goes. But, you know, the truth is, like we have more in common than we do that makes us different. 

 

Carlos Odio: Jon, you stole my line. If I can’t say Latinos aren’t a monolith, what are we here to talk about? [laughter] What am I going to do? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: We’ve stuck to our message, and it’s worked. 

 

Jon Favreau: Head that off at the path. 

 

Carlos Odio: But I’m glad we started there, because actually, we have taken to revising the statement because in our early years, we found we were constantly saying Latinos are not a monolith. Latinos are not a monolith. And we found the need, especially after the 2020 election, to add a clause. Latinos are not a monolith, but are still a group. You know, when you think of American society as a high school cafeteria and when you walk in the cafeteria, you might have lots of differences. But when you’re looking around, where do I belong? The reality is that Latinos do not fit in the traditional black white binary of American society and history. And so looking around, it’s like, well here are groups, um who are similar to my own and more importantly, a perception that this is how others perceive us. You know, my cousin who grew up in Miami, only ever referred to herself as Cuban in Miami. The moment she moved to Tennessee, she became Latino. Because you have a sense of how you are perceived and where you fit in. And so that shared identity is very powerful. There is a sense when you are evaluating who you are going to vote for, of who cares most about people like me. And the people like me can often be the lens of race and ethnicity and being Hispanic, and a perception of how parties and candidates treat Hispanics is a quick way to understand who is on your side and who is not. The power of that may fluctuate. And I think that’s something we’ll talk about here today. But it does still have incredible power, despite the many differences that you might have among subgroups of Latinos in this country. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: There are a set of values that do really kind of unite the community. And I think the importance of faith and whether you’re Catholic or evangelical or any number of other things, family, the value of the American dream, Latinos still, you know, we were calling Latinos the American Dream voters after the 2020 election because there’s still such importance placed on achieving the American dream. And so even kind of those three values are, are three values that you kind of see woven kind of throughout whatever subgroup we see and whatever subgroup we’re talking about. 

 

Jon Favreau: You can obviously categorize the Latino vote into many different groups. You can do it by gender, generation, geography, country of origin. What kind of categories do you guys think are most helpful in terms of discussing the different politics of Latino voters? 

 

Carlos Odio: Great question. So first and foremost, I think people go to country of origin. I think that’s appropriate. Most of the majority, overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters in this country are Mexican-American, of Mexican descent. You have big chunks of different South American groups, Central American groups, Puerto Ricans are the second largest single ethnicity. Cubans obviously are not huge, but kind of play an outsized influence in certain places and are the most different in terms of political values. Much like actually Vietnamese Americans are somewhat different from the larger AAPI group. But, you know, actually looking at country of origin tells you the importance of geography. People’s context really matters a lot. And so where you grew up, what media system you are in, how your neighbors vote can be incredibly influential. And so you have to look at urbanicity, are you in a very urban, dense area with a lot of Latinos. Are you in a more rural area where there’s a pocket of Latinos surrounded by others? Generation is a big difference. Whether you are an immigrant, or the child of an immigrant, or whether you are, as Stephanie is, multiple generations removed from the immigration experience, that’s going to impact the way you think about immigration, or at least how personally salient it might be at any given moment. There are other differences. What language you live most of your life, are you getting your news in Spanish or English? What do you speak at home? There’s like a longer list as you go down. There are differences even within states, but like I said, there are some commonality in terms of being Hispanic. Even as when you dig in deeper, you can spot some of these attitudinal differences. 

 

Jon Favreau: Stephanie, I’ve heard recently people talk a lot about the generational differences, and particularly around the further away Latinos are getting from when their parents first immigrated here. So like the third, fourth generation and people are saying they have weaker ties to the Democratic Party or to the left and are tend to be more conflicted. Would you agree with that? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah. I mean, I think just two things I would say to to answer that, and I think to pick up on Carlos’s point is one thing that I think we tend to do as spectators of what’s happening in politics is really flatten people’s personalities. Carlos talks a lot about this, and I think it’s always really important because we try to like put people into a square box as to, like, you are Latino and we’re only going to speak to you as a Latino or you as a woman, and all you care about are issues that are related to women versus like, you could actually have, like multiple identities that you’re carrying at the same time that in certain ways might otherwise kind of conflict with one another or what we perceive to be as like traditional, conventional wisdom about like how people might conflict within their own identities. So I just want to say that that any time we’re talking about voters, like remembering that people are the majority of Latinos as Carlos said in this country are Mexican-American. The majority of people in this country who are Latino maybe do not have a college education. They are working and middle class people. And so I just think it’s really important to remember that like the way people are experiencing the world and their livelihoods. The piece on immigration isn’t necessarily wrong. I think it’s just far more complicated than that. I think that what we have seen kind of over time and in our research is what people are really looking for is fairness. And looking for order and fairness around the way people come. And maybe they and their family waited in line and waited for ten years. And this is, you know, playing out in a lot of the work that we’re doing right now around immigration and kind of the sentiment and the complicated sentiment that Latinos have. And we sat in a focus group a couple of months ago. There’s somebody in Las Vegas who said, you know, if the border standards had been more complex or more strict, like I wouldn’t have made it here. He came here undocumented. And he said, and at the same time, it doesn’t seem fair what’s happening right now. So even in his heart of hearts and he was first generation. So I think like this notion of just like the more assimilated you are, the more conservative you are on immigration may have been true at some point, but now what you’re seeing is kind of more of a sentiment around fairness and order that people want to see in the system. 

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah, and we’re going to get to immigration in a little bit, too, because I think I have a clip from one of your focus groups. So the three of us have talked several times now in the Trump era on various pods and other settings. We haven’t really caught up since the midterms, and I know you’ve done a deep dive on what the 2022 results can tell us about the theory from some corners of the pundit world that we’re in the midst of a potential realignment where Latino voters as a whole are becoming either more Republican or less Democratic. Can you talk about what you found, Carlos, in the deep dive? 

 

Carlos Odio: Absolutely. So we were coming off the 2020 election, where you saw a shift that is about 8% to [?] of Latino voters who went from Clinton in 2016 to Trump in 2020. So to put it a different way, if it was closer to three in ten Latinos voted for Donald Trump in 2016, it was more like four in ten um in 2020. That doesn’t feel huge, but given that most of the other population was zigging and Latinos were zagging, it became notable. Even if a healthy majority of Latinos were still Biden voters and were so critical to Democratic victories in that year. So 2022 was the first test of the question whether that was a trend, whether that was the part of a ongoing multi-year realignment that we would see. And the real answer on 2022 is it didn’t really help anwer the question, in the sense that it was a stable in the states in which Democrats both parties competed the most. You basically had stability from 2020 to 2022. You did not see Democrats rebound to earlier levels. You didn’t also see, though, Republicans make additional gains. There was an exception in Florida, which is a kind of a cautionary tale where you do see an ongoing spiral downwards for Democrats in the state, in part because Democrats chose not to compete there. So what we got was a little bit of a pause in the action that is not really predictive of what we’re going to see in 2024. Although it does speak to a larger point, which is just if there is going to be a realignment, it’s far too early to tell. Look, I believe it is possible Republicans could make greater gains. The conditions exist for a larger realignment, but conditions do not determine outcomes. The conditions exist for the New York Knicks to win an NBA championship. [laughter] But we know that there’s more than conditions. And so that’s the place we–

 

Stephanie Valencia: Too soon. 

 

Carlos Odio: –find ourselves. Of course, there’s lots of like potential for Republicans among Latinos. But have they been able to really exploit those? Maximize those? Absolutely not. At the same time, Democrats still enjoy a lot of natural advantages that have not entirely gone away. [music break]

 

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Jon Favreau: So heading into 2022, you know, polls obviously show that Biden’s approval was quite low. Concerns about cost of living were quite high. This is especially true among Latinos. Stephanie, I’m wondering, like, why do you think Republicans didn’t do even better in 2022? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Well, two things at least the polling that we see now are not election results. They’re polling results. So there’s still room to shift and change. I think, you know, as Carlos said, there a set of conditions, but there’s still something that’s held Latinos back. And I think that the number one thing that I hope that the progressive infrastructure takes away is that this kind of volatility, as Carlos has called it over time, like there’s a good chunk of Latino voters who do not feel strongly ideologically one way or another, they’re highly, highly persuadable. And so there are a set of things we believe that could really work in either party’s favor, right, to really persuade to one side or the other. But there has been something that has really helped people back. And I think that does come back to the identity piece that we started with at the beginning of this conversation, which is who’s better for me and my family, like who is actually looking out for me and my family. And Republicans still have not convinced Latinos that they are actually better for them. Is there a lane to do that? Absolutely. Is Donald Trump the guy to deliver that message for them? You know, I think that is going to be the biggest question that we see in this election is people are going to remember what it was like under Trump, both under the economy, but also the policies around immigration tearing people’s families apart, the horrors that existed under his administration, and figuring out whether or not Latinos are going to feel strongly enough to pull the trigger for him, or are going to stay home or are willing to vote for Joe Biden in that circumstance. 

 

Carlos Odio: But if we’re talking about the midterms, we also have to go back to Nevada. I think is a great example, because here was a state where if Republicans were going to be able to make gains, this is where it needed to be at. It lined up. It was a place where it seemed like they were going to make a large effort. And I think there’s a lot we could look at there. But one that I think is incredibly relevant to this moment is the extent to which, while Republicans had an advantage on who Latinos thought would be better to handle the rising costs and inflation. Catherine Cortez Masto, senator running for reelection, was able to undercut a lot of that advantage. She shifted the ground of the conversation to not be broadly about economy and prices. But let’s get specifics and talk about gas prices, prescription prices, the cost of baby formula, and pointing to a preexisting belief that voters have. The Republicans, at the end of the day are looking out for the rich and the powerful and not people like you. And here is evidence based on hard prices. So you might be frustrated right now with Democratic governance. But Republicans are not actually going to look out for you at the end of the day, when it comes to your health care costs, when it comes to your pocketbook issues. So it was a great example, as we right now debate how to shift the ground on the economy. 

 

Jon Favreau: You mentioned that Florida is a cautionary tale. What happened in Florida? Besides Democrats are not doing enough to compete. 

 

Carlos Odio: Oh, man. Jon, we don’t have enough time for a [laughter] Florida conversation. [laughter] So I would say, look, Steph did not want me to talk about the identity force field, but I have to talk about the identity force field. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: [laughing] Explain what the identity force field is, Carlos. 

 

Jon Favreau: I saw it in the deck and I was going to ask about it. Very interesting. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: It’s an incredible concept but we are, yes [?].

 

Carlos Odio: But you it’s a pod. Like, how much time do you have? I’m going to do this in the shortest way possible. So we ask often, what is it that pulled or moved some Latinos toward Trump, when the proper question is what held them back in the past from voting for Trump or for other Republicans? There was a social constraint, right? If you think about the kinds of voters who are shifting in a moment, the most persuadable Latinos, by the way, most persuadable in the broader electorate as well, tend to be less likely voters, low propensity, as we would say. They don’t have a hard and fast party loyalty or ideological consistency. They don’t watch MSNBC all day long and read the New York Times and listen to Pod Save America. God damn them. [laughter] But they’re experts in their own lives. They understand what matters to them and their priorities, and they know that when it comes time to elections, they’re going to look for other signals that cut through the noise of what’s going to matter most to them. That lens for a while, was kind of identity, and it was what’s best for people like me, people like me being Latino. A lot of this was in the modern era, shaped by the immigration debates of 2006 and 2007, where the image of the Republican Party became not just anti-immigrant, but anti-Latino. And so a basic snapshot developed over that period of time, shaped by immigration and by economics. Obamacare was actually critical in this as well. That Republicans are the party of the rich and the powerful and the racist. And the Democrats care more about people like me. So, all things being equal. I’m going to go for the Democrats. There’s this old like New Jersey joke where uh somebody’s asked um I live in New Jersey now, so I have to tell New Jersey jokes. Um. What do you think about candidate X? It’s like, oh, that guy, oh I can’t stand that guy. What do you think about this other candidate? Oh, that guy. That guy is the worst. Which one of them’s pro-choice? 

 

Jon Favreau: Ah. 

 

Carlos Odio: And, like, that’s a lot of how people make decisions. For a lot of people the question is actually, which one of them’s the Democrat. That’s the one I’m going to vote for. The question that a lot of Latinos ask themselves, which one’s better for Latinos? Right. All else being equal if I have no other thing to poll now. What happened in 2020, to some extent is that that force field kind of flickered and that people were, asking themselves not just who’s better for me as a person who is Latino as part of this group, but who is better for me as an American worker? Who is better for me as working class, struggling in this moment, who gets my life not just what I need materially, but where I’m coming from culturally. And this was in the midst of the pandemic. So there was a sliver of Latinos, but a meaningful sliver who are more conservative, for whom these kind of identity constraints and the idea that it was socially unacceptable to ever vote for a Republican kind of went away for a moment, and they started voting on other considerations. This is a very long way to get to the fact that in Florida–

 

Stephanie Valencia: Florida. 

 

Carlos Odio: There was kind of a perfect storm. [?] But let’s just say like the identity constraints are common across geography. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: It was. Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: You can see it happening everywhere. The thing is though, in Florida, you have other conditions that conspire, including the fact that you have a very robust right wing ecosystem in South Florida, that if you are looking around and saying, where do I belong? The signals point toward the Republican Party. Trump basically lived in South Florida for the four years of his presidency, and then literally moved and lived in South Florida for the years of his presidency. Him and his surrogates were in there all the time. Democrats were essentially no shows during the 2020 election, in part because of the pandemic. And so you’re looking around, who’s talking to me? Who cares about me? All the signals are pointing in one direction at the same time that new people are becoming eligible in the electorate. New Cubans, new Venezuelans, many of whom were more, were more progressive, even as the Democratic Party was engaging and debating around, like democratic socialism and the Bernie wing. And so all of these things–

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: –kind of came together. At the same time, the Democrats kind of let go of the rope. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: And so the trends that we saw in 2020, while they were arrested in other places, in Florida just kept going. And the numbers are just kept tumbling into 2022 because there was no resistance. 

 

Jon Favreau: It’s great. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: And we’re really a culmination of ten years of investment in really a one sided media ecosystem, a one sided set of voices saying Joe Biden is a socialist and Democrats are socialists for ten years after Barack Obama. I mean, just the level of attrition that we have seen here since Barack Obama last won Florida among Latinos. And, you know, in the 2012 election has been astounding. And it’s not just among Cubans. Like we’ve started to see that attrition among other subgroups of Latinos. And I think the one glimmer of hope for me in a place like Florida are a couple of things. One is the abortion ballot initiative here. You know, the cycle is going to really generate a lot of enthusiasm. Will it be enough? I don’t know, but there is certainly something there that is going to generate animus and excitement. The second is, as Carlos mentioned, new arrivals. The thing about the migration crisis that I don’t think people fully registered with the American public is it’s not just people from Mexico coming. This is Cubans, Venezuelans, people fleeing all parts of the world, really. But you’ve got, you know, a couple hundred thousand new arrivals here in South Florida whose political ideologies have not been herded. They are just glad to not be where they were before. They’re trying to navigate where they belong in this new media ecosystem and this new political ecosystem. They’re trying to identify who am I aligned with, who is fighting for me and my family? Who’s fighting for me as, you know, a first generation immigrant. So there’s a huge opportunity to go organize those people and bring them into a system and introduce them to who the Democratic Party actually is, and really reintroduce who Democrats and progressives are. There have been people who are doing great work on the ground here for a long time with very little resources, because people, the larger political infrastructure, has kind of unilaterally disarmed from Florida. But there are threads there that can really potentially weave something together that could bring it back. 

 

Jon Favreau: So your research and just about every private and public poll and focus group comes to the same conclusion. Even though unemployment is low and inflation is falling, cost of living, affordability remains number one issue for Latino voters, just like all voters, certainly comes through in the uh Equis focus groups. You were kind enough to share. Let’s listen to a clip. 

 

[clip of focus group member 1] Every day it gets harder and harder to buy essentials. Uh. So, I got a new job, and I’ve been I’m making the most money I’ve ever had. But I feel worse than I was when I was making $16 an hour. 

 

[clip of focus group member 2] Um. I used to, you know, be able to survive with my family of five with what I’m making. And now I’m not. So I have to work twice as much. Uh. Look for another part time job to be able to afford everything that’s going on. 

 

Jon Favreau: So two of the most common reactions to these sentiments that I hear from a lot of liberals are one, these people are just misinformed about the economy, which is objectively doing quite well. And two, we just have to do a better job communicating Joe Biden’s accomplishments, Democratic Party’s accomplishments to these voters. Stephanie, what’s your thinking on that? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Oh, man, so many thoughts. Um. You know, I think that I’m very challenged by it because obviously the fundamentals of the economy and like the the traditional measures of the economy are quite strong. You know, Latino unemployment rate is at the lowest it’s ever been. You know, the the numbers on paper matter, but do people feel it in their lives? And that is the kind of last mile gap that we as Democrats and as progressives need to figure out how we communicate feelings over facts, because whatever policies have passed or are influencing the state and the health of the economy are not impacting everyday people’s lives. And it’s not unique to Latinos. And we know this, right? Like this is a phenomenon that is pervasive across um all voter groups, that people just aren’t feeling the shifts and the changes. They feel like all you know these policies have been passed and there’s been a lot of spending that has been happening. But what does it mean to me and my family and my ability to put food on the table and not have to work two jobs. At the same time, I also believe that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to be able to communicate that. So even just take health care and student loans, two really, really important economic issues. Those are not not economic issues. Those are about making college more affordable and taking a burden of of college loans and college debt off people’s plate. And health care, which has been one of the most important, you know, reductions in costs for and prescription drugs for Latino families. You have two of the most important surrogates, Miguel Cardona, who’s secretary of education, and Xavier Becerra, who is secretary of HHS, who are both Spanish dominant, Spanish proficient, very culturally competent people who can go out and sell this kind of stuff in Spanish. And I think there is this challenge of communicating both in language and in culturally competent places, whether that be radio or Spanish language TV, or through places like WhatsApp and other channels that is really actually reaching the people we’re trying to reach. Because right now, the policy deliverables and the policy wins and accomplishments live inside the beltway right now. They are not in everyday people’s lives and they’re not feeling it. 

 

Carlos Odio: We’ve kind of been stuck in a never ending 2020 where people voted for normalcy. They wanted to get back to something. And yet, you know, global dynamics led to a point where what we had was crisis upon crisis upon crisis, and people felt like they never came out of it. And so it makes sense then polling today or in focus groups like the one we just listened to, people are expressing frustration and discontent. The word I would keep coming back to is insecurity. I can say more about what people are saying, both in groups and in polling about insecurity. The question is what to do about this? The question is not we’re not we can’t debate people’s realities. We have to debate what we’re going to do about it and who’s going to be better at doing about that? Who’s going to care about the fact that you are struggling? Who is going to fight on your behalf and deliver? And that’s where picking a fight on something like Obamacare. Picking a fight on specific cost measures like prescription drugs. Once we get more into the debate, once, it is not just as it is right now a question of are you happy? Are you not happy? Once we start getting into who do you think is going to protect you? Um. And there’s an actual choice, then the picture can change. If Democrats don’t dismiss their concerns um and instead try to accept them, embrace them and say, okay, lets what are we going to do about it together? 

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah, it does sound like you need to make the election a choice. You need to make it a choice about the future and not about which president running had better records in the past. It’s not just a laundry list of policies, but it really is, like you said, who is going to fight for you. And the policies then become proof points in that larger argument. 

 

Carlos Odio: It’s almost like you say this all the time. [laughter] 

 

Jon Favreau: It’s, you know, it doesn’t get through. Uh. All right, let’s talk about immigration. People often assume, mistakenly, that immigration is the top issue for Latino voters, but in this election, it’s one of the top issues for all voters. Uh. And also the issue where they happen to give Joe Biden the lowest ratings, despite the fact that the majority of Latino voters and all voters weren’t fans of Donald Trump’s approach to immigration during his first term, but most voters now want the government to do more about unauthorized border crossings. Biden recently took action to shut down the US-Mexico border to asylum seekers when crossings get too high. So far, the polls show that most American voters and most Latino voters support that action. And some voters in your focus groups did as well. Uh. Let’s take a listen. 

 

[clip of focus group member 1] It’s hard to say that I’m like, I want to see stronger, like border policies or anything like that. Because my grandparents all came here illegally. So I feel like my my mind or my heart is kind of ripped into two when it comes to that, just because it’s just like, well if I was for a harsher border then you know, maybe I wouldn’t be here. Uh. But at the same time, I feel like, you know um, I guess at the rates or at least we hear that people are basically just walking through a border with nobody there to stop them. I feel like I don’t think that should be happening either. 

 

[clip of focus group member 3] I do like how um, Biden has really recently started to, you know, be stricter on the border. Um. Just because it, you know, it shows that he’s at least willing to, you know, give something up on his end in order to try to meet halfway through. So I want to see more of that, like, let’s get away from both the extremes. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle on all the issues. Let’s be unified, let’s act like adults. Not not like little kids. And let’s just, you know, make sure that this country is going to be around healthy for our grandkids and their grandkids. 

 

Jon Favreau: Carlos, how would you describe what’s happened overall to views on immigration over the last few years? 

 

Carlos Odio: So you said this earlier, Jon. Or in your set up here, immigration was never the number one issue for Latino voters, but it always helped differentiate between the parties, or at least it has in the modern era. It was a line in the sand to help you understand who was fighting on your side and who was not. Democrats had a huge advantage as far as that was concerned. That advantage has somewhat disappeared. And it is led by people on all sides of this issue among Latinos, regardless of where you were on whether you are super pro pathway to citizenship or whether you were all about border security, which is a smaller number. There was a frustration in the early going of the administration around what’s felt like a deprioritization of the issue, or a sense that sure Republicans are worse on it. But at the end of the day, Democrats promise and don’t deliver. And so there’s a wash between the parties, whether it’s fair or not, that was the perception as it was seen. Um. And so right now, what has happened in the absence of other debates is that we’re talking about the border, and the border has permeated. And once the border hit big cities. So the border was not just the border, but the border became a national issue. We’re talking about a debate that is fundamentally about law and order. Latino voters are very sophisticated on this issue in a way that I think sometimes the media is not. Immigration is a clumsy term for a lot of different policy areas that we’re talking about. When it comes to border, people are talking about it in terms of law and order and public safety and wanting some measure of control. All that they have been hearing from the right wing through the course of the Biden administration and earlier, was that the border is out of control. And if you believe the border is out of control, you support measures to bring it back under control. Clear and simple. There’s another side of the debate that’s about what do we do about people who are already here and how do we treat immigrants? You probably wrote in innumerable speeches in the Obama years, we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. 

 

Jon Favreau: Oh yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: And there’s a separate debate about what do we do about people who have been here, embedded in our families and our communities, that we’re not having right now, that hopefully the administration will take steps that allow us to have that debate, because it is a much better debate to have. Most voters, including Latinos, are both and voters. They want order at the border, and they want to take care of people who are already here. 

 

Jon Favreau: How much of a problem for the campaign, all campaigns at this point uh is the tension between immigration activists and progressive organizers, who mostly oppose President Biden’s border move and maybe a majority of voters, including Democratic voters and Latino voters who happen to support it? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah, well, I think that the thing that you’re seeing, whether it’s activists and advocates or voters themselves, is like a desire for solutions. Like I’ve been working on this issue. I just reflected on it for 18 years, since 2004, and I’ve seen attempts at meaningful action, but there’s actually been no actual meaningful action legislatively on this issue in 18 years. We obviously had what President Obama did with DACA, and that’s come and gone through the courts. That’s where the Biden administration may take some action to address some of the people who are here now as well. I think whether you’re talking to voters or advocates, there’s what you’re sensing is just this real frustration across all parts of the spectrum about inaction on this issue and the need to get to real solutions, and also a need for Democrats to deliver in a way that Latinos see and feel that delivered for them. Because up to this point, it’s felt like a lot of broken promises, including the time that we spent working in the Obama administration. It felt like broken promises then, too, and it has continued to feel that way over the last ten years when there have been fits and starts and candidates say, we’re going to push for this or fight for this. So the advocacy world is beyond patient on what could and should happen. And voters are now seeing what’s happening at the border. But I think to Carlos’s point, and what we heard from the focus group comments like there’s this conflict that exists with them too, which is they want solutions to get a handle of what’s happening in what feels like a very, very chaotic situation. And they also want compassionate, real solutions to deal with people who have been here, who are part of mixed status families, who are part of their community, who are part of keeping the economy going, like farmworkers, for example. You have people in this country, including, let me say, a United States congresswoman who was married to somebody formerly undocumented, like people are interspersed with the immigration system in every walk of life. And it’s not just Latinos, it’s African immigrants. It’s now Asian immigrants. It’s every walk of life. And so you’re just have this level of like frustration of like, and they’re not even doing anything with the people who are here. So I would just say, like across the spectrum from progressive to more conservative, it’s just people are fed up. 

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. You guys were both mentioning that President Biden might take another action. You know, it was reported this week he might move to provide legal status to undocumented immigrants who’ve been here a long time and are married to American citizens. Do you think that is a move that is significant enough that that will have an impact on voters? 

 

Carlos Odio: Yes. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah. They have to go and talk about it. So like, it can’t happen and then just kind of slip–

 

Jon Favreau: Right. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: –to the to the like, they got to go talk about it. And they got him again, that last mile problem of connecting the dots of something we did to deliver and solving a problem. Because this truly is about problem solving and solutions. But yes. 

 

Carlos Odio: Yeah, we spent a lot of time looking for things that move Latino voters. And this is one of those things that helps bring back some of the margins that you used to see. This is the kind of debate that helped create the high levels of Democratic support that at a certain point we got used to. Almost too used to that we started taking for granted. 

 

Jon Favreau: You mentioned how there’s been a conflation of the border with what happens with, how do we treat people who are already here. It feels like that benefits Trump, particularly and Republicans, because, like, I keep thinking that even though voters tend to support tougher border measures right now, Trump’s second term immigration proposals seem like they could really hurt him with the chunk of voters he needs to win. Army conducting massive raids in every city, giant camps, mass deportations. Am I wrong here? [laugh]

 

Carlos Odio: You are 100% right. I mean this is I think they’re overreaching. I think Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and these nut jobs are getting a little too excited about what they have seen happening because of the border, and are misinterpreting the possibility. Remember that in the Trump administration, we didn’t really talk a lot about deportation. There was a lot of talk about the border. In the Bush years, all we talked about were deportations, even in the Obama years. We were just talking about deportations. 

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: Trump kind of shifted this in a savvy way to just be this law and order concern, which would naturally advantage Republicans. Now, all of a sudden, his people want to talk about mass deportation of people who have been here decades. When you talk about deportation in the context of the crisis in the cities, maybe you get numbers higher than you’ve expected in the past. But when you start bringing it to that level of someone who has been married to an American citizen who actually most people assume already should become a citizen because of that and are shocked to learn they’re not. Trump is majorly overreaching, and there’s an opportunity for Biden. What any action on the White House’s behalf would help is allow that contrast to be more credible. To be able to reinforce, Democrats are doing this right. We’re doing the border. We are taking care of people who are here and look at what Trump wants to do. He wants more chaos at the border. He shot down bipartisan efforts to address the border situation. And now he wants to deport millions of people who have been here for years. Our polling very much suggests that that’s an incredible opportunity for Biden to regain some support among Latinos. 

 

Jon Favreau: Has it broken through? 

 

Stephanie Valencia: It has not. The politicization of the border has absolutely not broken through. 

 

Carlos Odio: Nor the deportations, the Trump plans. People haven’t heard them yet. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: So but that in and of itself is not going to be enough. Like that in and of itself is a scare tactic that can motivate. But there also has to be something that people feel like they can be for, and that somebody delivered for them and is a solution. Right? It’s not just about politicization or, you know, shutting down the border. It is also about a solution to a problem that has existed in society for 20, 25 years, right? That, like we’ve known, has been a challenge that nobody’s really been able to actually address. And so whatever, again, I’ll come back to what I said before, which is that you can’t just do the action and then expect that it’s going to be enough, like you have to do the action and lean into it. And my guess would be that, like, this is the kind of thing that is not just going to resonate with Latino voters, but it’s not going to have the kind of negative backlash with, you know, white suburban swing voters or um, you know, Black voters or other voters that conventional wisdom might tell us it would. Like I think this is the kind of thing that, again, it’s about a solution. But, you know, Biden has been rightfully focused at bringing order to the border. And this is the next step in a solutions based process around immigration. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Jon Favreau: Let’s talk about general impressions of the candidates, but also the race and the entire political system right now. In focus groups you sent us, I’d characterize uh, the voters as less than thrilled by the choices available to them. Let’s listen. 

 

[clip of focus group member 4] I mean, four years ago, I was very confident I didn’t want to see Donald Trump in office again. So it was a pretty clear cut decision to vote for Biden. And uh, I could just say the past four years have been pretty underwhelming. I didn’t see the changes that I was uh, kind of expecting or hoping from Biden. So now going into it, it’s like we’re going to have to choose between a guy that’s, you know, being sued from every other, you know, state in this country or a guy that, you know, underdelivered. 

 

[clip of focus group member 5] I feel like if I don’t see an improvement in the last four years, what’s what’s gonna happen in the next four? It’s just going to be the same stuff going on, it’s just going to get worse or it’s just going to be just as bad. Like I want somebody who changes everything. I don’t want I don’t want another four years of this mess that I have to live in every day. 

 

[clip of focus group member 6] I used to kind of lean more towards democratic, I guess, because of my family, but lately it seems like there’s a lot of like, fake promises that are being made or just big fake ideas that are, you know, aren’t really leading anything and there’s not really much progress or anything that’s big changes that are happening to kind of get back what we should be getting back, you know, and stuff like that. I don’t really think the distrust is where it used to be. 

 

Jon Favreau: Some of that sentiment was about Joe Biden, but a lot of it was just deep distrust and frustration with a political system that they don’t feel is working for them. And that seems to be a common theme among especially younger voters. And since the, you know, younger generation is the most diverse generation ever, that means a lot of younger Latinos feel that way, too. How do you guys think about addressing that distrust and frustration in a conversation with these voters? Carlos?

 

Carlos Odio: You know, these focus groups who we’re talking to there were the most undecided, swing-iest portion of Latinos. I’d say right now, if I had to characterize what the Latino vote looks like, I’d say there was just a great deal of uncertainty. You know, roughly around 18% by one measure, combining a lot of different ways. Is probably like the percent of Latinos registered Latinos, who are the swing-iest it’s about 18% of Latinos. Which is a fairly high number. A lot of those people aren’t going to vote. I think that’s part of the question here. People aren’t just choosing between the candidates, but are choosing whether um, to vote or not. And what they’re telling us when you ask them. As you heard in these groups and also in polling, we did one poll to try to get to what are people’s top priorities that they want to see the government addressing. And you try to do it in a forced choice way where people understand there’s trade offs. Now, would you rather they do this or that? And what we got at the end of this exercise, when you look at the top five, is all about insecurity. It’s either physical insecurity. Gun violence is number one because it shot up after Uvalde and has not come back down. And then it’s a lot of economic insecurity, rising costs, housing costs, health care costs. You hear it here. People are frustrated. They feel like it’s crisis after crisis. By the way, this is happening globally. It’s happening across the West. All incumbents are struggling with this. 

 

Jon Favreau: Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: And so as I mentioned earlier, the way to handle this in the beginning is first of all to adopting a persuasion mindset. This is not just anymore about can we get people excited to vote. It’s can we convince them that we understand where they’re coming from, and we are fighting on their side? Part of that is about getting more specific, not allowing this to stay in the abstract, right? What you hear in these groups is people are rightly talking about their feelings and kind of like amorphously like, things just feel bad. Vibes are off. So the more we can get to specifics, Joe Biden is going to protect Obamacare and Social Security and Medicare, and Trump wants to take all those things away. That’s where you see people start to line up in a more traditional manner. That’s that I don’t want to minimize the amount of risk there is right now. We find ourselves averting the two poles of doomerism on one side and denialism on the other. People who think that there is just a total collapse of a Latino vote for Democrats coming. I don’t think we see that quite yet. I think we see some discontent that is expressing in various ways. But there’s also the denialism of nothing’s wrong. Nothing to see here. The Latino vote is going to be what it always was. What I’d say is a lot of different scenarios are plausible. And so for Democrats, for Biden, for folks down ballot, a lot of this is just about putting in the work and getting back to basics. 

 

Jon Favreau: And a lot of it is also about, Stephanie shaping the information environment that these voters are in. And obviously, this is this is your specialty. Uh. You’re running the Latino Media Network now. You’ve been working on making sure people have, you know, access to some good information and some true information. Good news. The voters that we were just listening to, I’m guessing, are probably some of the least connected to the daily news cycle. They are not following news very closely. That tends to be the case with most low propensity voters, particularly low trust voters who are just distrustful of the system. How do you think about the best way to reach these voters in the next five months? Like where are they getting their news from, where are they getting their information from, and who are like trusted messengers that can actually help persuade them? As Carlos was just talking about. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Carlos can see me jumping out of my seat because this is like my favorite question. [laughing]

 

Carlos Odio: Well, we got this far into the conversation without mentioning that Stephanie owns 18 radio stations. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: And we  also got through this entire conversation without stating my favorite data point this election cycle, which Carlos is laughing because I’ve used every opportunity to say it, which is Nielsen, not Equis, but Nielsen, the media consumption research firm, did a whole study heading into the election about where do you reach swing voters and not Latino swing voters, but all swing voters and the number one music format in which to reach swing voters this election cycle is drumroll, please uh Mexican regional music. That is Peso Pluma, that is Grupo Frontera, that is a set of artists that even some I have never heard of. These are like 15 year old amazing, crazy, popular people who are dominating the airwaves of Mexican regional stations and in our portfolio at Latino Media Network. We own several of these stations. And so our case to candidates on both sides of the aisle is advertise on our stations, because this is where you actually reach swing voters. This is where you are actually going to be able to persuade and reach swing voters. We know from our research that the people who are most undecided right now tend to be watching Univision and Telemundo and listening to Spanish language radio. These are people who are are speaking Spanish at home. They probably speak English too in the world, but they are living part of their life in Spanish, consuming news and information in Spanish. We’ve known this for a very long time that Latinos are over consuming on places like YouTube and WhatsApp and other online digital platforms. So things like, you know, Donald Trump had a WhatsApp distribution channel in the last election cycle and during the White House years. So he’s got a way to reach and engage Latinos on WhatsApp. And if you’re a Latino that’s not on WhatsApp, that’s, you know, the minority of people in this country. Um. So you’ve got like, just these really unique ways that Latinos are consuming news and information. And I agree with you, Jon, like the people who are in those focus groups, are listening to FM radio. They’re not listening to Pod Save America. They are not listening to podcasts about politics. They are kind of trying to survive every single day, are listening to music and are plugging into, like their local radio station to try to navigate the breadth of information and trying to figure out what’s happening in the Middle East, what’s happening with inflation, you know, what’s bringing costs down. So there is an opportunity to have a conversation through these mediums where people actually are, um but we have to do it in a way that is going to make sure that people aren’t tuning out, because if we’re going to come and just deliver political podcasts, like that’s not the kind of thing that you know, the just hand raisers, people who are already involved in politics, people who are already engaged in the system, those aren’t necessarily the people that we need to bring in to kind of the conversation now. So it’s not rocket science. It truly is not. And we know that radio advertising as a tactic is one of the most efficient tactics to motivate voters of color as well. So it just it makes sense from a lot of different angles. 

 

Jon Favreau: One thing that I’m keeping an eye on is, you know, beyond the political news world, as you get into more entertainment, cultural, media, what are the vibes and is it becoming more socially acceptable to vote for Donald Trump? Is it just uncool to vote for Joe Biden or support Joe Biden? And I think about that broadly with all media. But I’m wondering, what is the vibe in Latino media? 

 

Carlos Odio: Yeah, that’s such a great question. Because, you know, we talk so much about ads and politics, but ads work at the very end. You want someone to see your ads as close to the act of voting as possible, because the effects decay so quickly. So much of the attitudes that are being shaped now are being shaped in social media, organic media, and your networks, word of mouth or what have you. And so we do monitor what people are saying on YouTube. TikTok is obviously one place where, um recent studies have shown Trump is highly overrepresented in the broader electorate, and that does have an effect. We talked about it being a social phenomenon, how people vote sometimes. And when you see more Latinos vocally expressing support for Donald Trump, it creates more of a permission structure, right? Um. So and so there is an invested effort in um trying to make that seem even bigger than it is. It’s a very vocal, loud segment of social media you see on YouTube. For a while, progressives didn’t think it was cool to be on YouTube. And so the right wing was kind of controlling YouTube. And people go to YouTube or end up there via Google because they want to understand current events. Something is happening recently. January 6th happens. For the kind of voter we’re talking about, they’re not turning on CNN. They’re googling what is January 6th. And if you end up on YouTube, a lot of the content that was there to provide context and shape people’s sense of what’s going on in the world was either straight news, which was very limited in how it, in what it could convey, especially in this modern era or straight up right wing hot takes. Um. And people get sucked into the spiral of right wing media ecosystems on a YouTube. It is yet another reason why we believe that if Democrats, progressives want to succeed, they have to show up and have these debates wherever Latinos are getting their news and information. And that is moving beyond and stretching into spaces like YouTube. 

 

Jon Favreau: So last question for both of you. We’re trying to um, give folks who are volunteering and having these conversations with voters some advice on like how to persuade the undecided voters in your life. Final question for both of you, if there’s a undecided voter in your life who’s not sure they want to vote for Joe Biden again, voted for him in 2020, they’re on the fence now. They’re feeling conflicted. You have a few minutes to persuade this person to get out and vote for Biden. What do you say? 

 

Carlos Odio: First of all, the way you persuade people is by providing new information that is relevant to them. And so we don’t talk about the past. People already know what Trump did in the past. It’s already baked into their current understanding of things. We have to talk about the future, about what he has planned in the future. We do have to show up and show that we care and are coming from the same place. And we need to, especially if what you’re having is a conversation with Latino voters, not flatten people’s identity down, but rather understand Latinos don’t want to be othered. Latinos very much are American like anyone else. And while identity plays an important role, it is one among many identities. Latinos don’t assume, though, that they are invited to the party. So you need to be explicit about the fact that something is targeting to Latinos while walking the fine line to not pander. So the most effective messaging is about talking about things that all hardworking Americans want, including Latinos. Across the board. Now, you’re not going to use uh poll tested messaging at the dinner table or when you’re hanging out with your, other parent friends at a kid’s birthday party. So I [laughter] so I think that at the end of the day it is coming back to saying, acknowledging some of the limitations, but saying for the things we care about, whether that’s cost of living and health care costs, whether that’s about abortion. Pointing out the many ways in which Donald Trump continues to fight for himself and for the rich and the powerful and not for people like us. 

 

Jon Favreau: Mm. Yeah. 

 

Carlos Odio: Whereas Joe Biden, while not perfect, cares and we know he cares. At the end of the day when  a decision is being made in the White House, what I want to know is, is this person making this decision, taking somebody like you and me into consideration? With Joe Biden, I know that. With Donald Trump, I know he’s only looking out for himself. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Yeah. And I would say what Carlos has outlined there attempts at is making somebody feel over giving them a list of facts so I’m going to come back to kind of my feelings over facts, like feelings need to drive a litany of facts. And at the end of the day, this question of who’s on my side, who’s fighting for me and my family, and this sense that not only is Donald Trump looking out for him and himself, but he’s poisoning the blood of this country and that there is an element of him targeting this community that is making it harder for us to be who we want to be as a country and creating that sense. And I think, you know what Carlos just kind of laid out, and you can intersperse the policy there, the student loans, a health care piece, prescription drugs and immigration. And I think the getting back to what you outlined, Jon, is, you know, the future of Trump’s immigration policy is horrific. And that sentiment of like, this is the world we could possibly live in, like, this is actually the world we could and making people feel that in a way that is compelling enough to understand that like staying home isn’t the answer, either. Like staying home and defecting to the couch is as much a vote for Donald Trump in some ways as pulling down the lever for Donald Trump itself, and that really like to be able to change the course of this country is voting for Joe Biden. 

 

Jon Favreau: Fantastic. Thank you both so much. It’s always just such a pleasure to talk to both of you. And I always feel so much smarter after I do so, uh I appreciate you guys taking the time. 

 

Stephanie Valencia: Thank you. 

 

Carlos Odio: Thanks. [music break]

 

Jon Favreau: I thought Carlos and Stephanie ended on such important points that are useful no matter who you’re trying to persuade. There’s a limit to how many minds can be changed by simply refreshing people’s memories about how bad Trump was, or how much good Joe Biden has done. Elections have rarely been won by relitigating the past. Facts are important, but we aren’t moved by facts alone. We want to feel seen and heard and understood. None of us like being pandered to, and we certainly don’t expect our politicians to be perfect. We just want to know that they actually give a shit about us, and that their vision for the country includes us. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] I’m a queer immigrant. I’m married to the love of my life and I just bought a home. I have elderly parents who are both sick. I have in-laws who are, you know, looking to maybe retire, 70s and 80s. I am a person who comes from a mixed status family, so I have a lot to freaking lose.

 

Jon Favreau: That’s Leo story, and I’m willing to bet you have a lot at stake, too. We all do. And the key to changing minds is to go into each conversation with the assumption that the person you’re talking to doesn’t just define themselves by their identity or their politics. They probably care about a lot of the same things you do. 

 

[clip of Leo Murrieta] Don’t write people off. That’s probably the biggest message. Don’t write anyone off. Every ordinary person can be spoken to, can be convinced if they trust you. Have tough conversations because people are worth it. Our futures are worth it. If you’re concerned that your uncle or your tia are, you know, absorbed into Fox News, tough shit, you can talk to them about the issues and how they matter, right? And, like, talk to them about the truth, point to real things. The world outside is not on fire, right? Look out your window. These are the perspectives that ordinary people bring. I am not an ordinary person. I’m not normal. I live and breathe politics. People don’t want to hear from me. They want to hear from their nieces, their nephews, their tias, their tios, their moms, their grandmas. Those are the people that they want to hear from. Their coworkers, their hairstylist, wherever. Like they want to hear from ordinary people about how the Biden administration has actually had their backs. How insulin being $35 a month is a game changer. How protecting the access to seniors, Medicare, Social Security, that’s a real benefit for real people. Right. And like canceling student debt. Holy cow. That needs to be at the top of every family conversation, right? If you had the privilege of going to college and you have the privilege of benefiting from this stuff, and you’re not shouting that from the mountaintops? You need to look in the mirror and actually talk to yourself about how you can do more. And it’s not hard. 

 

Jon Favreau: Leo’s right. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s not hard. And it’s the only way we’re going to win this thing. We’ll see you next time on The Wilderness. [music break] The Wilderness is a production of Crooked Media. It’s written and hosted by me, Jon Favreau, our senior producer and editor is Andrea B. Scott. Austin Fisher is our producer and Farrah Safari is our associate producer. Sound design by Vasilis Fotopoulos, music by Marty Fowler, Charlotte Landes and Jordan Cantor sound engineered the show. Thanks to Katie Long, Reid Cherlin, Matt DeGroot and Madeleine Haeringer for production support. To our video team Rachel Gaewski, Joseph Dutra, Chris Russell, Molly Lobell, and David Toles, who filmed and edited the show. If The Wilderness has inspired you to get involved, head on over to VoteSaveAmerica.com/2024 to sign up and find a volunteer shift near you. 

 

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