Republicans try to lock up swing states by appealing to Latino voters

The centerpiece of a new Republican National Committee midterm plan to hold the House of Representatives? House parties.

Republican operatives are organizing small groups of Hispanic constituents on couches across the country, emphasizing districts where their votes could prevent a seat from flipping in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada.

“We are going to continue outreach to communities that haven’t traditionally been Republican, that don’t know our message,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News at a recent house party in Coral Gables, Fla. “But the only way we can share our message is if we show up.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

In the last three midterm cycles, 2014, 2010, and 2006, Hispanic voters only made up 8 percent of the electorate according to exit polls. In 2016, Hispanic voters broke for Clinton over Trump by nearly 40 points. But Republicans seem to believe a platform highlighting the strength of the economy may motivate more Hispanic voters to turn out – and for their candidates – than in recent contests.  (2008 Getty Images)

In the last three midterm cycles, 2014, 2010, and 2006, Hispanic voters only made up 8 percent of the electorate according to exit polls. In 2016, Hispanic voters broke for Clinton over Trump by nearly 40 points. But Republicans seem to believe a platform highlighting the strength of the economy may motivate more Hispanic voters to turn out – and for their candidates – than in recent contests.

In Florida, McDaniel was joined by a handful of GOP activists, who are particularly focused on solutions for improving hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Thousands of Puerto Rican natives displaced by the storm are still in Florida, which some operatives see as an opportunity for Republicans.

“We believe that many families are going to stay,” the RNC’s Puerto Rico engagement director Gary Berrios said. “Our job is to tell them the message of the Republican Party.”

Surprisingly, immigration never came up at the house party in Florida attended by Fox News.  But as long as President Trump is in office, Democrats plan to make immigration a top-tier issue.

“Latinos judge people by their words and their actions, and this president has made one statement after another, taken one action after another, disparaging and demoralizing and disenfranchising Latinos,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told Fox News in an interview Wednesday.  “Look at the Puerto Rican situation – Puerto Ricans are second-class citizens in Donald Trump’s opinion, that’s why we have a third of the island – still – without electricity.”

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.