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In Key 2016 States, High Levels of Latino Voter Energy and Participation on Display

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Will Latinos turn out and vote against Trump and for Democrats by record margins? By a number of measures, Latino voters across the country are engaged and enthusiastic about voting in 2016.

Adrian Pantoja of Latino Decisions has this to say in a new analysis titled, “The Trump Effect and the Latino Vote”:

“Throughout this election scholars and pundits have speculated on whether Donald Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants will have a mobilizing effect on Latinos. It will take time after the election to fully assess whether there was a Trump effect and the degree to which it may have increased the size of the Latino electorate. Nonetheless, preliminary survey evidence is encouraging in that we are finding a Latino electorate that is energized and engaging others to vote. Among Latinos, it is immigrants that are most intent on voting and engaged in mobilization efforts. Evidence from the field is also reassuring. Returns from early voting in Hispanic-majority counties also suggest dramatic increases in voter registration and turnout.”

Reinforcing Pantoja’s point, observers in key battleground states are highlighting the potentially pivotal role of Latino voters, as well as the ongoing hard work to maximize Latino voter engagement.

In Arizona, Farai Chideya of FiveThirtyEight writes of how “Mexican-Americans are Reshaping the Electoral Map in Arizona – and the U.S.” by telling the story of a young canvasser named Irma Maldonado:

“Mexican-Americans such as Maldonado may help determine the political future of Arizona — and the nation — in a landmark election year. In an August survey, respondents were asked if Trump and Clinton made their respective parties more welcoming or more hostile to Latinos. Nine percent of Mexican-Americans said Trump made the GOP more welcoming; 74 percent said he made it more hostile. By contrast, 59 percent said Clinton made the Democratic party more welcoming; 9 percent said more hostile. An October poll by Latino Decisions found that 17 percent of Latino voters nationwide said they support Trump or are leaning toward him; 70 percent supported Clinton.

…Gabriel Sanchez, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico and a principal at the opinion research firm Latino Decisions, said Latinos are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in 2012, having been mobilized by Trump’s comments targeting Mexicans. He added that the Republican Party will have a hard time winning over Mexican-Americans in subsequent elections unless it supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In Florida, the Washington Post’s James Hohman writes in the Daily 202 political tipsheet(excerpted below):

“Barack Obama narrowly won Florida in 2012 by expanding the electorate. Hillary Clinton, with help from her allies, is trying to do that again in 2016. Indicators on the ground and in the early ballot numbers suggest that many low-frequency voters, particularly Latinos, will participate in this year’s election.

The progressive group [Center for Community Change Action] has spent the past four months targeting a very specific universe of 384,000 Florida Latinos. They are low-propensity voters who are likely to support Democrats. That means they are registered but have either never participated or only cast a ballot in one of the previous four elections (typically the presidential in either 2012 or 2008.)

Only 45 percent of the 493,000 people who have registered to vote in Florida since the start of August are white. Democrats expanded their voter registration advantage by almost 70,000 over the course of the summer, so they go into this election with a 327,000 registration advantage statewide.

A surprising number of low propensity voters have voted early so far. About 3.73 million ballots have already been cast in Florida, compared to a total of 8.5 million votes that were cast in 2012, including on Election Day. More than 400,000 of the registered Democrats who have voted early have either not voted in the past three elections or voted just once. Among Republicans, that number is 336,000. Of the nearly 200,000 registered Hispanic Democrats who have already voted, 50 percent fall into that category. Through the weekend, 70 percent of early voters have been white, compared to 14 percent Hispanic and 11 percent African American. (Hispanics account for about 16 percent of Florida’s registered voters.)”

Also in FloridaAlexandra Glorioso and Isadora Rangel of the USA Today Network highlight the potentially pivotal role of Puerto Rican voters in Florida, writing:

“Of the state’s 818,540 newly registered voters this year, 185,905 are Hispanics nearly evenly split at 42 percent between Democrats and Non Party Affiliates, with almost 15 percent registered as Republicans…

…An early October poll by the Center for American Action fund, suggests Clinton leads Trump by 57 points among Puerto Ricans in Florida. Ruy Teixeira, a demographer at the firm, said these Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters were in part due to the Puerto Rican influx.

…‘The key question for people on the ground, is not to persuade them, but rather, getting them to vote,’ Teixeira said.”

In Nevada, Lauren Fox reports on the work and goals of the Immigrant Voters Win PAC:

“When 19-year-old Miriam Cadenas knocks doors in North Las Vegas, she will occasionally let the Hispanic voters she’s meeting in on a little secret. ‘I’m doing this because I can’t vote,’ Cadenas tells them. ‘My voice is pretty silent right now, but my voice is protected through you so if I get you to go out to vote and vote for the right people then I might not lose my DACA and I could be less scared of my future and the future of my family.’

Cadenas is a DREAMer, an immigrant who walked across the border illegally when she was 8 years old and can’t vote in the upcoming election. She has DACA, a special status that allows her to work and live without immediate fear of deportation, and a list of voters who she’s trying to convince to vote for Hillary Clinton. At 19, she is a soft-spoken and determined paid canvasser for the Immigrant Voters Win super PAC, a new group that’s entire objective in 2016 is turning out low-frequency Hispanic voters that other campaigns might usually ignore because they don’t reliably show up to the polls.

…Using a tablet equipped with VAN, a voter canvassing app that helps target voters by seeing their voting histories and background, Cadenas is one of 60-100 paid canvassers knocking doors for Immigrant Voters Win on a given day. It’s not uncommon for the group to make contact with the same voter upwards of six times to ensure he or she makes good on a pledge to turn out to vote. In fact, that’s the goal. Using their voter outreach technology, the PAC knows what religion a potential voter might be, whether they have kids, they’re propensity for voting and other market research data points. They use Hustle, a peer-to-peer texting technology, to keep in touch with voters they’ve met and spoken with. The PAC is part voter education, part social pressure all aimed to ensure Latino voters don’t stay home on Election Day.”

In Texas, the engagement of the Latino vote in the state continues to be a trend with major longterm potential political effects. As FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman recently noted:

“In Texas … The counties with the highest Latino shares, Hidalgo, Cameron and El Paso — all located along the Mexico border — are experiencing big surges in participation. After its first week of early voting, El Paso is already at 83 percent of its total 2012 votes cast and 177 percent of where it was at this point in 2012’s early balloting.”

And writing in The Hill, Rafael Bernal notes that Latino engagement efforts in key states are far from over: “A large coalition of progressive political groups announced Monday a push to get Latino voters to the polls before Election Day. The multi-platform campaign will start Tuesday in Florida, Nevada and Texas, to coincide with Dia de Muertos, a Mexican holiday that commemorates the dead, celebrated every Nov. 1.”

The signs are pointing to record turnout and huge margins.