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The Latino vote in the USA, a sleeping giant

All signs seem to indicate that the hoped for awakening of the Latin American population will not come to pass in time for the midterm elections on the 6 November. Studies and polls forecast that only a minimal percentage of votes will be cast by Latinos.

 

Luis Beatón

 

The idea that this American community makes the difference in United States elections is, therefore, more myth than reality.

This community, constituting the largest minority in the country and thought by many to have the power to bring a Latino president to the White House as early as the mid twenty-first century, does not turn out to vote, despite attempts by the traditional parties, the Republicans and Democrats, to get them to the ballot box.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times it was noted that 800 thousand Latinos turn 18 every year and the two parties invest millions of dollars in efforts to enthuse Hispanic voters.

This demographic’s power would be colossal since 27 million are eligible to vote and the votes would tend to favour the blue party (Democrats), taking account of the fact that, among other things, Donald Trump’s policies do not find favour with this section of society.

The percentage of this demographic that places their vote remains minimal and those studying the subject claim that turnout at elections accounts for barely 20 percentage points, which is less than that of African Americans and non-Hispanic whites.

Analysing these projections is complicated, even more so because the Latino population is concentrated in secure states such as Texas, California and New York where elections are dominated by one party or the other.

Recent surveys show that in swing states the scale could be tipped in November, but barely 40% of eligible Hispanics have registered.

Their vote could make a difference in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Florida, regions where the demographic is important in the general context of voters.

In Colorado they represent 14% of those with the right to vote, in Arizona 20% and in Nevada and Florida the figure approaches 17%. For example, in these 4 states, the post of governor is central to the dispute between Republicans and Democrats, and in the latter 3 states, the federal senator seats are too.

Analysts and commentators on the political process maintain that with a change of just three federal senators from Republican to Democrat, the Democrats would dominate the Senate and it is foreseeable, therefore, that they could establish a force capable of confronting the racist and anti-immigrant policies of the current administration.

Looking at a forecast of the future power of the Latino vote, if the longed for awakening of the ‘giant’ occurs once the electoral roll is taken in 2020, the elected governors in the majority of states including Colorado, Nevada and Florida will have power of veto over the redrawing of electoral wards.

When polling stations are opened on November 6, which is seen by many as a referendum on Trump’s politics, the seats up for contention are 35 in the Senate in Washington, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 36 state governor seats. Two years into Trump’s mandate – marked by an intense political drive towards reducing immigration – the subject of migration has, even so, risen to the top three subjects of most concern for Latinos, an inquiry by television network Univisión has revealed.

The poll, carried out in Arizona, California and Florida and cited by the Californian newspaper La  Opinión, revealed that in these three regions with the greatest number of Latin Americans in the country the economy is of most concern, followed by immigration and healthcare.

Nevertheless, recent analysis by Pew set out the fact that migration comes in seventh place among the concerns of the general public, on a list headed by healthcare and the economy, the same subjects that Latinos are worried about.

Different Hispanic organisations insist, as do their members, on the importance of voting, since for them it is obvious that if one does not make a choice oneself, other people will end up making the decisions.

In this election, that is coming up soon, there are challenges and exceptional circumstances that must tip the scales. Latin Americans make up 17.8% of the total population in the United States and number up to 57.4 million people. Nevertheless, their force can no longer remain a myth, but must become a reality to  facilitate their defence of their own interests. (PL)

(Translated by Elizabeth Dann – Email: elizabethdann@blueyonder.co.uk) – Photos: Pixabay & Pxhere

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