The first warning sign of the new year came three days into 2020. Speaking at a rally of conservative evangelicals in South Florida, President Donald Trump riffed on the targeted killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani before the thousands assembled in the King Jesus International Ministry megachurch, outside of Miami.
That night, the president captured headlines for declaring that “God is on our side” and accusing Democrats of disloyalty for not supporting his air strike. But for Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, what the headlines—and Democrats—missed was the significance of the rally’s location: the home of the country’s largest Hispanic evangelical congregation.
“That should be a serious red flag to Democrats,” Garcia told me. Trump’s outreach to conservative Latinos in the South serves as a warning sign for deeper concerns that several Latino leaders and political activists shared with me: that they are dissatisfied with the level of engagement they are seeing from the Democratic primary contenders and are noticing the same kind of poor strategizing by candidates that yielded disappointing turnout among Hispanic voters in 2016.
By all demographic counts, 2020 should be the year Latinos make a decisive mark on national politics: Their support could swing primary races in early-voting and Super Tuesday states, possibly securing the nomination for one of the Democratic contenders, and it could tip the scales in the general election if they turn out to vote in the same record-breaking numbers as they did during 2018’s midterm elections.