The Latino Vote 🗳in Election 2018: So What?

It will be some time before we learn whether or not the Latino Vote 🗳 made a difference in the midterm elections of 2018.

Leading up to Election Day, there were mixed signals 👍🏼👎🏼 if this would finally be the year that the so called “Sleeping Giant” would awake. Many Democrats 🐴 were counting on President Donald Trump’s incessant attacks 🤬against undocumented immigrants, existing laws favoring them and the Mexican 🇲🇽 government (for not doing enough to curtail illegal crossings) would result in a strong voter turnout. Republicans 🐘 were confident that the President’s verbal assaults wouldn’t be relevant to eligible voters (many who are third and fourth generation Hispanic/Latino), who do not relate to the tug-of-war issues of immigration reform.

Latino voters were in a position to generate the “blue wave” 🌊many liberals were hoping for on November 6, after two years under the Trump Administration. It ended up being more of a blue ripple.

On election night, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) cheerily predicted higher voter turnout for Latinos than their optimistic calculations announced two weeks before. NALEO reported that 7.8 million Latinos were expected to vote, 15% more 📈 than the last midterm elections in 2014, but lower 📉 than the presidential elections in 2016.

The 2018 midterm elections saw more eligible 🙂 Latino voters than ever before for, 29M+ according to the Pew Research Center, but as seen in previous elections, the expectation is that a record number of them didn’t vote ☹️. Fewer Latinos voted in the 2016 than they did in 2012 (47.6% vs. 48%), and that was down from 2008 according to the U.S. Census. It is worse for midterm elections. The Latino voter turnout dropped to a record 27% in 2014, a downward trend since 2006.

Still, the news isn’t all that bleak. The polling firm Latino Decisions, found that 5% of registered Latinos turned out for early and absentee voting, exceeding 2014 midterm levels.

There’s no question that Latino voter turnout can be key in any election, especially for the Democrats. According to the Washington Post, of the 73 most contested congressional races, 25 were in districts where Latinos make up at least 10% of eligible voters. It is certain that Democrats needed Latino voters to win back the House, but were they a factor? 🤔 We’ll have to wait and see.

The real winners on Election Day were Latinas 🚺. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia made history becoming the first Latinas from Texas to join the U.S. House of Representatives. In New York City, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. In New Mexico, Michelle Luján Grisham is the first Democratic Latina to win a gubernatorial race. These Latinas are just a few examples of the historic election for women.

I´m sorry if I am casting a shadow over the brightened enthusiasm of the possible surge of Latino voters. No one would be happier than I 🤠 to be wrong about voter apathy by my community. I´ve just heard this song 🎶 before by organizations who need to be more measured in their expectations.

There´s much work to be done in order to inspire Latinos to mobilize and make a real difference at the polls; especially if they are going to be a political force in the 2020 presidential election 🇺🇸.

(This article was first published on Identidad Latina)

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