Equally troubling to the party, Democrats have slumped with voters of color, particularly in Hispanic and Asian-American communities where Republicans’ attacks on Democrats as a left-wing party appear to have resonated, denying Mr. Biden a victory in Florida and costing the Democrats in Congress there as well as Texas and California. Indeed, the only House seats Republicans picked that were not in districts that Mr. Trump also held were in heavily Hispanic or Asian regions.
On a Democratic conference call last week, Representative Linda Sanchez, a former member of the House leadership, criticized the Democrats’ Latino outreach strategy as a dismal failure, according to two people who participated in the call. And Representative Donna Shalala of Florida, who lost her seat in a heavily Hispanic district, complained during the call that her party had not effectively refuted Republican representation of Democrats as socialists.
“Defund police, open borders, socialism – it‘s killing us,” said Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a South Texas Democrat who won just over 50% of the vote two years after nearly capturing 60%. “I had to fight to explain it all.”
The “average white”, added Mr. Gonzalez, may associate socialism with the Nordic countries, but for Asian and Hispanic migrants, he is reminiscent of despotic “left regimes”.
Representative Harley Rouda of California, an Orange County Democrat who narrowly lost his candidacy for re-election, said the party needed to deliver a more assertive and moderate message if it was to claim districts like its own. Mr Rouda, who plans to run again in 2022, said he suffered along with the centrist voters and the many Vietnamese-American voters in his constituency, many of whom recoil from the rhetoric of socialism.
“This talk that the Democratic Party is socialist at the limit, we have to fight harder because it is just not true,” he said. “We had to be more energetic to defend the moderate position of the Democratic Party as a whole.”
Chuck Rocha, a longtime Democratic consultant, said too many white Democrats “see blacks and browns as the same” instead of approaching Hispanics as people open to either party and needing to be convinced.