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In AZ, FL, NV, and Even TX, Mounting Evidence that the GOP’s Embrace of Trump and Nativism Is Accelerating Latino Political Engagement

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Washington, DC – Yesterday, we highlighted media reports demonstrating how the hard work of GOTV and canvassing operations was combining with pro-immigrant and anti-Trump/anti-GOP sentiment to bolster pro-Democratic candidates and early voting efforts in key Latino-heavy 2016 states. Today, we have a new round of examples in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and even Texas that reinforce the point. Energy, hard work and issues such as immigration are driving Latinos to participate in key 2016 contests – with potentially big implications up and down the ticket.

In Arizona, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Postinterviews ArizonaRepublic political reporter Dan Nowicki about the state’s newfound competitiveness and its implications. Nowicki notes that Former Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing of the “show me your papers” SB1070 anti-immigrant law in 2010:

“[L]aunched a movement to get the underperforming Latino electorate engaged in politics by registering more Latino voters and getting them to the polls. That effort has already born fruit in local elections. Besides the presidential and U.S. Senate races, the Latino voter bloc could land a big blow against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, like Brewer an extremely controversial figure in the Latino community.”

Also in Arizona, Stephen Nuño of NBC Newswrites about how GOP-imposed institutional barriers, such as restricting the number of polling stations, remain a barrier to maximizing Latino voting power – but that the combination of hard work, outreach and demographics was starting to break through nonetheless:

“The SB1070 bill, which codified racial profiling against Latinos, was a wake up call to the minority community, but without any substantial infrastructure in place to recruit Latinos, it’s been a difficult path to realizing the power of the Latino vote. But the Clinton campaign has long licked its lips over the potential presented by a young voting bloc that makes up over 30 percent of the population and will make up over 20 percent of the voters come this November … For Latinos who haven’t done early voting, long lines await them in a final obstacle to having their vote counted. During the primary election this year, Maricopa County decided to reduce the number of polling stations from 200 in 2012 to 60 … In Arizona, the question is whether Latinos will finally make their mark and will a new President Clinton fashioned in a new likeness invest in the state to reverse the systemic problems that have long dogged minorities in Arizona.”

In Florida, Marc Caputo of Politico assesses the direction of the state, concluding, “Florida spirals away from Trump.” One major reason for the pro-Clinton trendline in Florida is the engagement of Florida’s Latino voters. Yesterday, the Clinton campaign highlighted a surge in Latino early voting in the state. As Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeedhighlighted:

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign is touting a substantial 99% increase in Latino voting in Florida compared to this point in 2012, with 133,000 Hispanics already casting their ballot in the state, as part of its major focus on getting its base to vote early in key swing states. The campaign included the figure it called ‘unprecedented’ in its latest field report Monday, as early voting begins in Florida, with the 133,000 votes comprising mail-in and absentee ballots. Last week, it said that in bellwether Pinellas County in Florida, which is 10% Latino, Democrats now maintain a voter registration advantage that’s increased since March.”

Also in Florida, Sasha Issenberg and Steven Yaccino of Bloomberg Politics highlight the potentially pivotal role of Puerto Rican voters in Florida:

“This year, some national and Florida polls have pegged GOP nominee Donald Trump’s support among Latinos below 20 percent—a difference that could place this ultimate swing state securely into Clinton’s column, if her campaign can reach its turnout goals.

…It turned out that it did not take much persuasion to move the new Puerto Ricans into Clinton’s column. Latino Decisions, a polling firm that supplies her campaign with research on Hispanic public opinion, found Clinton winning 74 percent of the vote to Trump’s 17 percent, with an even larger margin among the subset of those born on the island. The island-born viewed Clinton more favorably, and Trump more unfavorably, than their mainland-born peers. And within both groups, only 11 percent of voters said the debt crisis was the most important issue to them, behind even “immigration or deportations”—even though as citizens those issues are unlikely to affect Puerto Rican families directly.”

In Nevada, two new polls (from the Review-Journal and Rasmussen) show that the presidential contest is trending towards Clinton. Again, Latino voters’ engagement in the state is a major part of the storyline behind the trendline. A new story in Wiredhighlights the important work of a canvasser with Mi Familia Vota in Nevada named Daniel Zamora and puts his individual efforts in an important larger context that captures some of the the Latino-focused ground game in the state:

“In recent months, Mi Familia staffers have knocked on some 50,000 doors, registered 16,000 people to vote, and plan to make 70,000 phone calls before Election Day. But as early voting gets underway this weekend in the crucial swing state of Nevada, it’s not the only group making a concerted effort to turn out the Latino vote. A quarter of the state’s population is Latino.

Before the debate in Vegas this week, the city’s Culinary Union, which represents 57,000 workers in this city alone (more than 56-percent of whom are Latino), organized a “Wall of Taco Trucks” around Trump International hotel. It was a cheeky nod to one Trump surrogate’s now viral comments about how if Latino culture isn’t contained, “you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

…But it’s not just noise … This work has helped drive a 52 percent surge in citizenship applications in Nevada this year.”

Finally, while Texas has long been one of the most deeply Republican states in the country during presidential elections, its sizeable and growing Latino population is showing unprecedented signs of energy and engagement this election cycle, judging by early returns from early voting efforts. For example, the first day early vote in the 91% Latino population Hidalgo County, TX increased 70% compared to 2012 first day early voting.

While it’s too early to declare Texas competitive for 2016, it’s not too early to speculate that the combination of Trump and the larger Republican embrace of nativism may be accelerating demographic changes in Texas and beyond.