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On the eve of the 2022 midterm elections, where Americans vote for one-third of the Senate and all House Representatives, four of five battleground states remain toss-ups for Democratic and Republican candidates, according to Politico. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are known as key Senate battleground states, and four of these five show narrow leads between candidates leading up to Election Day. Republicans are “closing the gap in states where Democrats have led all summer,” leaving room for Republicans to regain control of the Senate.

Either party’s win over the Senate majority will decide the future of democracy, as well as the economy, abortion and immigration—each issues that have been at the center of national political coverage this year, and major decision-makers for registered Latino voters.

In a report released by Pew Research Center, the economy was identified as the most important issue to registered Latino voters, who remain mainly working-class. Healthcare is a close second for the group which faces disproportionate health and economic impacts from COVID-19—followed by education, violent crime, gun policy, voting policy then abortion, energy policy and immigration. As candidates across these states share similar goals to create jobs and invest in infrastructure and clash on taxes, student-loan forgiveness and abortion, most Latinos say they would not vote for a candidate who does not share their view on the economy, gun policy, abortion or immigration.

As Democrats and Republican candidates have taken starkingly different approaches toward immigration, abortion and gun policy throughout this year, a recent dip in Democratic support from Latinos is causing heads to turn.

For decades, a majority of Latino voters have voted for Democratic candidates, but that support has dropped in recent years, triggering conversation about the appeals each party may have toward Latinos in different regions of the country. Since 2018, the 40-point advantage Democrats held over Republicans with Hispanic voters has dropped to a 27-point average, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll.

“Democrats have had a better time with the multi-ethnic part than the working class part,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant with expertise in Latino voting trends, in an interview with NPR. “Republicans have always had a better time with the working class and not been multi-ethnic.”

For the 2022 midterms, just over half of Latino voters prefer a Democratic candidate compared to 28 percent who prefer a Republican, according to Pew Research. While it remains unknown what percentage of Latino voters will turn out to the polls for this year’s midterms, candidates are continuing their outreach for Latin votes in battleground states, even with drastically different plans, “where every bit on the margins could be the difference-maker.

Here’s where Senate candidates in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin stand on the economy, healthcare and education—the top three most important issues to registered Latino voters:

― Arizona ―

Prior to last Thursday, Politico predicted a Democratic lean from voters in its Election Forecast. This lean became a “toss-up” after neither incumbent Senator Mark Kelly nor his opponent, Republican Blake Masters held a significant lead over one another, and reflects a growing GOP-appeal statewide.

Economy: Kelly plans to lower costs of living for Arizonans, with an emphasis on gas prices, and promote domestic oil production. He also seeks to cut taxes for working-class people and hold corporations accountable to paying fair taxes. Masters is focused on limiting government spending and attributes inflation to President Joe Biden’s job performance. He plans to restore American energy independence and exercise “meaningful” oversight over the Federal Reserve.

Healthcare: While Kelly is set on protecting Social Security, Medicare and the right to an abortion, Masters is a pro-life candidate who supports the Hyde Amendment and plans to strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

Education: Kelly does not explicitly discuss education in his campaign plan, but has a record of supporting STEM programs to boost its workforce. Masters, on the other hand, has made it apparent to oppose Critical Race Theory, teachers unions and the Department of Education.

― Florida ―

As the largest swing state leans Republican, a poll by Florida Atlantic University shows incumbent Marco Rubio leading by six points against Val Demings, who is one of the most successful fundraisers running for US Senate.

Economy: Both Rubio and Demings share an importance in reviving the “American Dream,” with Demings’ plans to create thousands of jobs with livable wages, cut taxes for the middle class and small businesses, and increase federal funding for affordable housing. Rubio also wants to provide relief to small businesses that are tax-paying. Though he has not released a detailed campaign as an incumbent, he remains adamant on capping regulations on corporations.

Healthcare: Demings hopes to provide affordable healthcare to every American, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and is pro-choice on abortion. Rubio recently introduced the New Parents Act in 2021, which would provide paid parental leave for parents in exchange for Social Security benefits. He is pro-life on abortion matters.

Education: Demings plans to increase teacher wages and is passionate about gun safety in schools. She supports the Protect Our Kids gun safety bill. Rubio once showed support for increased gun regulations in 2018, but has recently stated that he believes there are better school safety measures than gun restrictions. He introduced the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, which focuses on school security measures instead of gun laws.

― Georgia ―

Despite recent allegations that Herschel Walker, who is pro-life, asked two women to have abortions, Politico’s RealClearPolitics chart shows him leading by less than two points over incumbent Raphael Warnock.

Economy: Like Masters, Walker champions American energy independence and has expressed frustration at Biden over inflation. While he opposed the Inflation Reduction Act in the past, Warnock opposes tax breaks that benefit the richest and harm poor and working families. Warnock plans to create well-paying jobs, fight for equitable employment practices and continue his work with the Georgia Port Authority to protect their federal funding.

Healthcare: Warnock and Walker are in heated opposition over abortion, with Warnock a pro-choice candidate and Walker a pro-life candidate, after two women accused Walker of pressuring them to get abortions in the past. Walker has denied the allegations, and said his religious beliefs ensure his stance as a pro-life candidate. Warnock also plans to lower the cost of prescription drugs, expand Medicaid and cap the cost of insulin.

Education: Walker has not explicitly stated where he stands on student-loan forgiveness, but said in a debate that it is not the responsibility of Georgians to deal with the burden. His opponent Warnock is set to fight for student-loan forgiveness, create more alternatives to college and support K-12 programs that ensure fair starts for children.

― Nevada ―

Incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, is locked in a one-point “dead heat” with Adam Laxalt as more Nevada voters want a Republican-controlled Congress, according to a New York Times-Sienna College poll.

Economy: Both Cortez Masto and Laxalt plan to lower costs of living and create more jobs for Nevadans. Cortez Masto is focused on holding Big Oil accountable for high gas prices and investing more in infrastructure and construction, while Laxalt plans to limit government spending and boost America’s supply chain.

Healthcare: Cortez Masto defends the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), plans to cap the cost of insulin and prescription drugs and improve student wellness by investing in school mental health resources. While Laxalt has been largely silent on healthcare, he opposed the Affordable Care Act and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug costs with pharmaceutical companies in the past. He is pro-life when it comes to abortion, and opposes abortions being funded by taxpayer dollars. Cortez Masto, on the other hand, is pro-choice.

Education: In addition to funding more mental health resources in schools, Cortez Masto plans to increase teacher wages, PPE for teachers and students and benefits for student veterans. She is also focused on improving air quality and internet access to strengthen in-person and online teaching. Laxalt’s campaign does not include detailed plans on education, but he has openly opposed student-loan forgiveness and plans to repeal the Commerce Tax, which provides funding for schools in Nevada.

― Pennsylvania ―

For months, Democrat John Fetterman held a clear lead in the polls. Now, he’s neck and neck with Mehmet Oz as Election Day approaches.

Economy: Fetterman is strong on cutting taxes for working class people, suspending the federal gas tax and improving opportunities for farmers against Big Agriculture. His opponent Oz plans to support small businesses by opposing government regulations, limit government spending to grow the economy, and achieve American energy independence.

Healthcare: Fetterman plans to protect Social Security and lower the eligible age for Medicare to 60, while Oz is committed to expanding access to private sector health plans. The candidates clash on abortion, with Fetterman a pro-choice candidate and co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act who plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and Oz a pro-life candidate. The candidates share a desire for affordable pharmaceutical drugs, and Oz plans to get rid of policies that increase the cost of prescription drugs for seniors.

Education: Fetterman plans to instate universal Pre-K and childcare, and increase funding for public schools and technical programs. Oz is passionate about incorporating financial literacy into early education. Regarding college, Fetterman plans to make community-colleges tuition-free and reduce student-loan debt, while Oz is focused on stopping universities with large endowments from raising tuition on an annual basis.

― Wisconsin ―

In a critical race, the win of either incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, or Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is on the edge.

Economy: Johnson plans to cut government spending, lower gas prices by allowing the private sector to extract fossil fuels. He agrees with other Republicans’ plans to increase American production, but also wants to diversify manufacturing offshore. Barnes is set on cutting taxes for the middle-class and expanding the child tax credit. He also wants to increase American manufacturing to improve the supply chain and create more jobs in doing so.

Healthcare: Johnson diverges slightly from other Republican candidates on abortion, with a pro-life view that maintains exceptions for rape and incest. While he believes abortion laws should be dictated by each state, Barnes remains pro-choice on abortion including at the federal level. Johnson is adamant about implementing a healthcare system based on consumer choice and a free market, while Barnes is focused on protecting Social Security and lowering the eligible Medicare age to 50 for Americans on employer-provided plans.

Education: Like Oz, Johnson opposes yearly tuition increases from universities with large endowments. He plans to push financial literacy education in schools as Barnes promises to increase funding for public schools. What’s also important to Barnes is ensuring children have fair access to education.

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