What the polls say about Julian Castro and the other vanishing Latino candidates

by Alex Gonzalez

Antonio Villaraigosa, Lupe Valdez and Julian Castro

The New Texas Tribune poll released on Monday shows that even in his home state of Texas, Julian Castro has become the vanishing Latino candidate. Castro  received only 3% percent in Texas Tribune and only 9% of support among  Texas Hispanics.

It’s hard to explain what has happened to Julián Castro’s campaign without taking his “Latino” identity into consideration. It’s more likely that Julián will become one of those vanishing Latinos candidates like Antonio Villaraigosa, Loretta Sanchez, Kevin De Leon in California, David Garcia in Arizona and Lupe Valdez in Texas who naively assume the “Latino” label alone was a political identity that would lure Mexican-Americans, who are the 80% of all Latinos across the Southwest, and 90% in Texas.

We still don’t know how this will end for Castro but the odd are against him since he has remained at 1% after almost 6 months of campaigning.  But, the failure of Julian Castro to appeal to Latino voters, thus far, should be a sign for Democrats to reassess what they are doing with  the “Latino” label.

Julian Castro kicked off his campaign 5 ½ ago, and he has been at 1% in all national polls, I recall seen 2 polls where he actually made it to 2%. When polls are broken down by state and by race/ethnicity, Castro is at 1% among all Democrat voters  and  3% in Texas according new Texas Tribune poll or 4% in Quinnipiac poll, and among “Hispanics/Latinos” in Texas Castro gets only 9% and 10% respectively.

I’m’ not sure if this is a failure of the “Latino” identity that is not monolith and generate no passion, or whether it’s that Julian’s nice-guy demeanor, or the fact he may be too progressive to appeal to a average Mexican-Americans, or Latino voters.

Even some Democrat “Latino” activists already are “sounding the alarm” that the party needs to do more keep Latino voters engaged. But these party activists who right away assume it’s the party apparatus responsibility.  But is it the party or the candidate?

Again, I’m not sure if this is a failure of the “Latino” identity does not generate political passion, or that its; Julian’s lukewarm progressive views that don’t appeal to Latino voters who are mostly Mexican-Americans. One thing that I am firm about is that labels such as “Latinos” or “Hispanics” does not generate political mobilization or high turn among “Latinos” because both labels are invented by the media and party technocrats and honchos to create the false idea of a “Latinoland.”

If this trend continues, Julian would be another unsuccessful “Latino” experiment like  most recently, Lupe Valdez in Texas, Antonio Villaraigosa and Kevin De Leon in California , David Garcia in Arizona, all Latino Democrats that failed to generate enthusiasms and get voters to the polls.

Julian Castro is at 1% nationally. At 1% nationally, one could argue because there are so many candidates that Castro is been overshadow by other candidates, and though his ethnic “Latino” label is  strong qualifiers, the media is not giving enough air time to Castro. But what the polls may indicates is that Democrats across the board don’t think Castro’s is strong enough to defeat Trump.

In the latest comprehensive poll by The Economist/You Gov Joe Biden leads with 27%, followed by Bernie Sanders with 16%, Elizabeth Warren 11%,  Pete Buttigieg with 9%, Kamala Harris with 8, and Beto O’ Rourke with 2%. Julian Castro is at 0%. But when all the poll are added, Nationally, Julian is at 1%% and Beto is 4.5%. But this poll is generally mirror of all national polls.

Here are the most recent national polls including both the total Democrat voter choice and Hispanics:

Click on image to enlarge

On May 4th, Harvard had a similar comprehensive poll showing the same trend. Among all Democrat voters, Biden was leading with 34%, followed by Sanders with 17%, Kamala Harris 9%, Beto O’Rourke with 8%, and Castro with 0%. Among Hispanics, Biden lead by 21%, followed by Sanders with 33%, Kamala Harris and Beto O’ Rourke with 9%, Elizabeth Warren 6% and Julian Castro with only 3%.

Similarly, in the New CBS poll last weekend in 3 primary/Caucus states, Biden leads with 31%, followed by Warren with 17%,  Bernie with 16%, Kamala Harris  with 10%, Pete Buttigieg with 9% and  Beto with 5%. Among Hispanics: Biden 27%, Bernie 20%, Warren 17%, Beto 10%, Harris 10%,  and  Buttigieg 5%,

Therefore, nationally, Democrat voters think Julian Castro is not strong candidate, and Hispanic voters may think that Biden, Sanders Warren, Harris and Beto O’Rouker have better chance to beat Trump.

When the polls are broken down into states, the polls show very little variation from national polls about Julian Castro.  For example, last week the LA Times/Berkeley released a California poll where Job Biden is leading with 22%, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 18%, Bernie Sanders 17%, Kamala Harris 13%, Beto O’Rourke with 3.2%, and Julian Castro with only 0.9%. see tables below

Though California is Kamala Harris home state, the state is also home toe largest bloc of Latino voters, yet Julian Castro barely appears as favorite of Latino voters. Among Latino voters in this LA Times/Berkeley poll Biden and Sanders lead with about 25% – combined support among English and Spanish answers, Beto gets 6-7%, Kamala Harris 9-10%, and Julian Castro 6% among Spanish dominant  but only 1% among English dominant. Note that support for Julian among “English dominant Hispanic” is 6% while among those “Spanish dominant” is only 1.2%.

California is home the largest number of Hispanic voters and  about 70% are Democrats, yet Julian is at only 3.5% among Hispanic voters.

Nevada is another state where the Latino Lote is very active. In the most recent Monmouth poll from Nevada, Biden received 35%. Elizabeth Warren 16% and Bernie Sanders got only 11%, Beto 3% and Castro got 0%.  Among Hispanics in Nevada, Biden still has a comfortable lead with 27%, followed by Sanders with 19% and Warren with 11%, Beto 6% and Castro with 2%.

Texas is home to Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke, and the latest Texas poll by Quinnipiac poll showed Biden leading Bernie does much better than Beto and Julian among Hispanics.  Even in Texas, in the Quinnipiac Poll poll, Bernie does much better than Beto and Julian among Hispanics. According Quinnipiac poll,  in Texas, Biden leads the Horse race with 30%, followed by Beto with 16%, Bernie sander with 15%, and Castro with only 4%. Among Hispanics in Texas, Biden is at 20%, tied with Sanders at 21% while Beto and Warren are tied with 16% and 15% respectively with Castro getting only 10% among Hispanics.

Similarly, the Texas Tribune poll is almost identical to the Quinnipiac poll regarding Julian Castro; In fact this may be the real reason why his Joaquin Castro  decided not challenge Sen. John Cornyn in 2020. Among all Democrat in Texas, only 3% said they plan to support Julian Castro, and among Hispanics in Texas, only 9% would support Castro. Both poll from Texas may suggest that Julian Castro is not very popular among Hispanics in Texas, or nationally. What the polls could indicate is that even if Hispanics do like Castro they don’t  think he is electable, or strong enough to beat Trump.

Nationally, Democrat and Hispanic voters may presume that Biden, Sanders Warren, Harris and Beto O’Rouker have better chance of  beating Trump and Julian “Latino” identity is not strong enough to woo Latino voters to coalesce behind Castro So Castro  will become just another vanish Latino candidate who assumed being “Latino” was enough to energize Mexican-American voters. But Julian Castro alone is not alone in this failure to appeal to Latinos.

If we look what happened to the other “Latino candidates” like Lupe Valdez in Texas, Antonio Villaraigosa and Kevin De Leon in California, David Garcia in Arizona, we can see all these candidates failed to generate enthusiasm and get Latino voters to the polls.

I’m’ not sure if this is failure of the “Latino” identity that is not monolith and generate no passion, or that Julian’s lukewarm  progressive mantra that doesn’t appeal to Latino voters who are mostly Mexican-Americans in the Southwest

Why Latino are not warming up to Castro could be electability.

We still don’t know how this will end but if this trend continues, the failure of Julian Castro to appeal to Latino voters should be sign for those Democrats  that whatever they are doing is not to working to woo “Latino” voters who are mostly Mexican-American voters to coalesce behind the “Latino” candidate or to generate voter turnout or enthusiasm.

Why Latino candidates fail to generate enthusiasm among Latino voters is strange but there is a pattern. It’s already a cliche that say Latinos are not monolith because people don’t want discus the obvious cultural and different regional  political characteristics of all Latino groups and the media idly just lumps all Latinos as one group.

Below are the result of the races in Texas, California and Arizona where Latinos were running for top statewide posts.  The table shows all the results from the Mid-Term in 2018 where Latino candidate ran for top statewide races.

Kristen Cinema in Arizona got more votes than David Garcia ( 1,191,100 – 994,341 ) and Beto got 600, 000 more votes in Texas than Lupe Valdez. Latinos, it seems, are not drawn to the Latino candidate based on their ethnicity.

A similar pattern occurred when Kamala Harris won the Latino vote in California’s U.S. Senate race in 2016. Exit polls showed that Loretta Sanchez  won 53% of the vote in her bid for U.S. Senate in California. However, a survey by the LA times/USC also underlines that 48% of Latino voters backed Harris compared with 40% who supported Sanchez.

Also, in primary in California Kevin De Leon made it to general Election with only 12%, In top-two primary, he came in 2nd place with Dianne Feinstein receiving 44% of the vote.  see table above.

Moreover, Antonio Villaraigosa received only 13% of the vote in the California primary despite the fact that he campaigned for more than year for Governor. The Republain candidate received almost twice the number of votes than Villaraigosa in the primary.

And this is one of the biggest mistakes Democrats Mexican-American voters and party bosses make. They try the progressive politics of “people of color” hoping that, under this label, Mexican-Americans and other Latino groups will find a unifying national mantra with the politics of African-Americans. However, outside party activists, the fact, the “people of color” struggle mantra is not very popular among Mexican-Americans and does not generate enthusiasm that leads to real voter turn or  support for Latino candidate.  And there is no proof the labels like Latinos or Hispanics as politcal identity leads to higher turnout. Why? These labels are not political identities; they are purely made up by the media, party bosses/technocrats and academics to lump all groups together.

The polls show that, even in Texas where only 10% of Latinos support Julian Castro,  he has failed to appeal to Hispanic/Latino voters across the Southwest. Why? Julian appeals only a very small group of “Latino” progressives, but not the overwhelming majority of Mexican-Americans.

A while back ago wrote that, after Both Beto and Julian were officially running, no one should be surprised if Beto “out-Mexican” Julian since Beto is more Centrist. The polls show that Beto and Biden, who are more center-right than Julian, have out-Mexican-ed Julian.

Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst, Founder of Latino Public Policy Foundation (LPPF), and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to vote@latinosreadytovote.com or @AlexGonzTXCA


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