NewsNational Latinx Heritage Month


Why the 'Latino vote' is a myth

Voting (FILE)
Posted at 3:20 PM, Sep 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 23:49:46-04

UNITED STATES (KERO) — In the past couple of years, Democrats have lost some ground with the Latino voter block, with nearly one-third of Latinos now shunning the party.

In data from Unidos US, a Latino-based civil rights and advocacy organization, that surveyed around 2,700 Latinos across eight states including California, voters said top issues include the cost of living, gun violence, and the economy. That was pretty similar across Latinos in all states, but it’s who they think would better address the issue where you see that slight change.

In California, where Latinos are mostly from Mexico, Democrats no doubt won. However, when looking at a state like Florida, where Latinos are usually from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and South America, it’s a bit more even.

Clarissa Martinez, Vice President of Unidos US, says these conversations have also led to misconceptions around the Latino vote, most recently on the issue of abortion.

"We are a diverse community, and that also means there are some Latinos that are Republicans, some that are Democrats, and some increasingly that are independent," said Martinez. "We are also a community of faith and family that is also undergirded by the fact that Latinos generally do not support extreme positions and do not support taking the rights away from people."

Martinez says other misconceptions are that a majority of Latinos cannot vote when data shows eight out of 10 Latinos are United States citizens. These voters land all across the political board.

"Both parties right now are underwater in terms of the peak levels of support that they have been able to achieve in previous cycles from Hispanic voters," claimed Martinez. Martinez also said that this is what makes outreach even more important.

Data also shows that two-thirds of Latinos in California felt they were overlooked in the 2020 election.

The diversity among Latino voters can be seen right here in Kern County.

Bakersfield resident and conservative Latino voter Guillermo Gonzalez was pulled towards the Republican Party for various reasons, including family tradition.

“I asked him, ‘Dad, why are you voting Republican,’ and he said ‘Well, a Republican gave me papers. A Republican gave an amnesty. It would be ridiculous to vote otherwise,’” said, Gonzalez.

Like his father, Gonzalez spends a lot of time reading to better understand how the world works. It’s this constant learning and life experience that influences his politics.

“I was born here in Bakersfield, but I was raised in Mexico City, so it was kinda tough,” said Gonzalez.

Still very in touch with his Latino roots, Gonzalez says it was what he saw in Mexico that pulled him even more toward the Republican Party, especially with regards to defunding the police.

“You come here and you see how they kinda want to start [defunding the police], and most of the time, they don’t do it out of bad heart, but you start realizing ‘I have seen this before. This is history repeating itself, just in a different country,’” said Gonzalez.

Bakersfield resident Hortencia Cabral agrees with Gonzalez that defunding the police is dangerous. The difference is that Cabral is a Democrat.

“No, I am not in favor of defunding the police,” said Cabral. “I don’t hear the Democrats say that. In my opinion, that is noise designed to distract from what really matters.”

Cabral is very invested in the Democratic Party, sending postcards and canvassing on their behalf locally. She says the Democrats she knows want police to be held accountable, but don’t support extreme measures like defunding.

The idea that the Latino voting block is no monolith is backed up by voter data.

“Latinos generally do not support extreme positions and do not support taking rights away from people,” said Martinez, speaking about the recent research into Latino voting patterns carried out by Unidos US.

The study shows that most Latinos surveyed in 8 different states have the same main concerns, and those concerns remain consistent regardless of individual party preference.

“On the priorities that drive us, there is a great deal of alignment whether we think one party or the other or neither can do a good job at addressing them,” said Martinez.

Another main priority for Latino voters is abortion and the recent Republican-led push to remove abortion rights.

Something Martinez says resonates with both sides is the feeling that both parties need to work harder to gain the Latino vote.

“The things we consistently see in our polling not just this year but every year is that candidates need to do a lot more outreach to our voters if they want to win our support,” said Martinez.

One thing everyone involved agrees on is that voter turnout is important. The deadline to register to vote online is October 24th.