Could Latino Voters Tip the 2020 Race for Trump?

Could Latino Voters Tip the 2020 Race for Trump?

For years, pundits and demographers have been predicting that 2020 would be the year of the Latino voter. It was a likely scenario—according to Pew, Latinos are already the second-largest ethnic or racial group in the United States, and their population has grown by about 4 million since Donald Trump was elected. Though Latinos have historically voted at lower rates than white people, with population growth has come greater political relevance and a decisive position in states like Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. However, in a year dominated by coverage of suburban women, Black voters, youth motivated by Black Lives Matter, and even older voters impacted by COVID-19, the Latino vote has seemingly become an afterthought. As Daniel Garza, a conservative activist and the president of the Libre Initiative, told me, “one party ignored us, and the other took us for granted.”

On the Democratic side, the lack of focus on the Latino vote reflects in part the dynamics of the primary. While the Bernie Sanders campaign built a coalition of younger voters and Latinos, Joe Biden’s team focused on Black voters, moderates, and older, mostly white, voters. Once primary season ended and the Biden campaign pivoted toward the general election, it was hobbled by the lack of a Latino infrastructure and then consumed by a need to navigate COVID-19 and the complicated politics of Black Lives Matter. Latinos, according to Stephanie Valencia, a cofounder of the progressive research hub EquisLabs, were “put on the back burner.”

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