Experts Discuss Data Released in New Report, Results of Gubernatorial Primary, and Role of Immigration as Mobilizing Factor for Latino Voters in Colorado
Home to one of the fastest growing Latino electorates in the country, Colorado is set to steal the national spotlight in House, Senate and Gubernatorial races this November with immigration playing a key role. How candidates on both sides of the aisle address this issue will have a huge impact on turnout and preferences of the state’s Latino voter population and, ultimately, the outcome in key races.
Today, in the wake of Colorado’s Gubernatorial primary, experts in immigration politics, Latino issues and civic engagement analyzed last night’s primary results and discussed opportunities and challenges for both parties heading into November and beyond.
Speakers also released a new report, conducted by Latino Decisions and commissioned by America’s Voice, that illustrates how the current immigration debate is influencing the state’s surging Latino electorate and how both parties have an opportunity to mobilize this key voting bloc.
According to Dr. Gabriel Sanchez, Director of Research, Latino Decisions and Associate Professor of Political Science, University of New Mexico:
The growth of the Latino electorate in Colorado has made the state one of the most electorally competitive in the nation, and the continued growth of Latino population will increase their influence on election outcomes well into the future. Our polling in Colorado has found that immigration policy has become a major factor driving Latino voting behavior, which helps explain the surge in Democratic support among this key segment of the electorate.
The report highlights a multitude of ways in which Colorado’s surging Latino population in shaping politics in the state. Among some of key findings:
- Latinos comprise 21% of Colorado’s population and 14% of the eligible electorate. By 2040, Latinos are estimated to constitute 34% of the eligible voting population.
- Turnout rates amongst Colorado’s registered Latinos trend higher than those in similar western states at 91%, but only 57% of the Latino electorate is actually registered to vote, with approximately 213,000 Latinos not yet incorporated in the Colorado electorate.
- Latinos have all but abandoned the Colorado GOP. Over the past two decades, Democrats have carried over 60% of the Latino vote in presidential elections, while Latino support for the Republican Party has been trending downwards since 2004.
- Latino voters care deeply about immigration on a personal level—63% have friends or family members that are undocumented. In 2012, it was the second most important issue amongst Latino voters, after Economy/Jobs.
- Lastly, 24% of Colorado Latino voters indicated they would be more inclined to support future Republican candidates if the Party advanced comprehensive immigration reform including a pathway to citizenship. That 24-point margin is enough to determine the outcome in some of the state’s most competitive races, including Colorado’s Senate and House CD-06 races.
Ken Salazar, Former US Secretary of the Interior and US Senator from Colorado, said:
The Republican ticket in Colorado seems to have made a decision, and that decision is to write off Latino voters. There is simply no other way to explain their hostility on key issues like immigration reform, minimum wage, and health care. Congressman Gardner is going to find it very hard to win this state with his anti-immigration voting record.
“Immigration continues to be high on the priority lists when it comes to issues Latino voters care about. They want to see action as opposed to empty promises. Slight changes in rhetoric are not going to make the difference to voters who know that House Republicans are blocking immigration reform. We will see the local impact of congressional inaction in Colorado, where the Latino vote may play a decisive role in highly contested races. Mi Familia Vota will continue to build the Latino electorate in Colorado, by registering eligible voters, engaging voters to increase turnout in every election, and ensuring that Latino voters are informed on who is with us and who is not when it comes to key issues like immigration reform” said Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota.
Patty Kupfer, Managing Director of America’s Voice, based in Denver, CO, concluded:
Republicans in Colorado woke up this morning breathing a sigh of relief, but when it comes to the issue of immigration they still have every reason to be worried. Tancredo or no Tancredo, Republicans have blocked the best chance for immigration reform in decades and that will not be lost on Latino voters. If killing reform weren’t bad enough, Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman have both voted to deport DREAMers and the families of military veterans. It doesn’t get any more Tom Tancredo than that.
· Listen to a recording of today’s call HERE.
· View the report, “Hispanic Voters and Colorado Politics,” HERE.
· View the slide deck here.