Former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, the only Latino seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, is struggling among likely Latinx voters in Texas.
Castro, the mayor of San Antonio from 2009-2014, had just short of 8% support among the voting bloc, according to a Texas Lyceum poll released Thursday.
Meanwhile, the other Texan seeking the nomination, former El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke, had 22% support among Latinx voters.
Josh Blank, research director for the Texas Lyceum poll, said O’Rourke’s support among Latinx voters is “residue” from his close U.S. Senate race last year.
“He really did work very hard to communicate with groups – and particular groups that Democrats see as the future of their coalition, like Hispanics – as a central strategy in his campaign,” Blank said. “And I think he has seen the benefit of that.”
Albert Morales – the senior political director at Latino Decisions, a polling firm based in Washington, D.C. – said Castro hasn’t had the same kind of exposure to Texas voters as O’Rourke has, which is a disadvantage overall.
“The Castro brothers have been San Antonio politicians,” Morales said. “And Beto ran a phenomenal race in Texas. He is still really fresh in the minds of voters.”
Morales said that’s why he’s not surprised to see Castro isn’t getting more support among the Latinx community.
"Polling has consistently shown that a Latino surname doesn’t necessarily get you votes,” he said. “But an affinity toward the culture does.”
Morales said O’Rourke speaking Spanish on the campaign trail and making an effort to talk directly to Latinx voters has helped him ever since his ultimately unsuccessful Senate run against Ted Cruz last year.
And while Texas voters are familiar with O’Rourke, Blank said, Castro is likely going to have to continue introducing himself to Texas voters – as well as voters around the country.
“Castro has always, in this race, been at a bit of a disadvantage both to Beto and otherwise,” he said.
The frontrunner among Democrats in Texas, former Vice President Joe Biden, lagged behind O'Rourke, too. The poll found he had about 16% support from Latinix voters. He does have strong support among white and black voters in Texas – 27% and 33%, respectively.