"[M]ore than 2 million Latino voters — may head to the polls in November because of the “Trump effect.” Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks against unauthorized Latino immigrants have angered most Latinos because of their family immigrant histories — many of them are second- or third-generation Americans. And many Latinos may know someone dear to them who is or was an immigrant."It has gotten personal.
Mercedes Olivera firstname.lastname@example.org It’s a common refrain, heard repeatedly before elections: “Latinos don’t vote.”
Increasingly, however, it appears the reverse may be true, according to a new study released by the William C. Velasquez Institute in San Antonio last week. And local elected Latino officials are seeing the same trend.
In the 2014 midterm elections, more than 1 million Latinos turned out to vote in Texas. That translates into 48 percent of Latino registered voters — a considerable percentage when their numbers had gone down by 300,000 since the 2012 elections.
In addition, total voter turnout in Texas and around the country was anemic — 28 percent in Texas, and 36 percent nationwide.
“Never have we seen such a stunning turnout when a state loses so many voters but still performs in the turnout better than in the last two midterm elections,” said Lydia Camarillo, vice president for the Southwest Voter Registration Project in San Antonio.
“The narrative that Latinos don’t vote is just not true,” she said.
She cited other barriers to voting that still may play a role in depressing turnout, such as voter ID laws and a cumbersome electoral system that inhibits rather than encourages easy access to the polls the way same-day registration does in other states.
“You cannot blame Latino voters anymore,” she said. “If you want to change voting patterns for all groups, then you have to change the system.”
Nevertheless, the institute is projecting that a record number — more than 2 million Latino voters — may head to the polls in November because of the “Trump effect.”
Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks against unauthorized Latino immigrants have angered most Latinos because of their family immigrant histories — many of them are second- or third-generation Americans. And many Latinos may know someone dear to them who is or was an immigrant.
Fort Worth City Council member Salvador Espino said he has already seen it at work.
He said he has seen Latinos more engaged early in the presidential election cycle than in past years because of “frustration and concern” about comments by Trump.
He saw a similar situation when Ramon Romero ran for the District 90 legislative seat in 2014.
“There was a concern with Austin and the lack of diversity in the Tarrant County delegation,” Espino said.
Today, it is Trump who is lighting a fire under Latinos to become politically engaged.
“We take Donald Trump very seriously,” he said. “The more outrageous his statements, the more he rises in the polls. If he is not the nominee, no one is going to forget that many in the GOP did not call him out.”
Laura Barberena, president of the political consulting firm Viva Politics, echoed Espino’s sentiment.
“To what extent does his rhetoric define the Republican brand and is shaping it is the question,” said Barberena, who was present at the Velasquez Institute’s briefing last week.
“If they embrace Trump, then they’re embracing these politically charged positions that can be detrimental to the GOP brand in the long term with Latinos.”
The bigger question, though, is will Latinos still turn out if Trump is not the GOP presidential nominee.
Camarillo said that, either way, if Democrats want to win in Texas, “they can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and not invest in turning out the Latino electorate.”