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Setting the Record Straight: Where and How Latino Voters Made a Difference in 2020

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A recording of the call is available here.

In the historic 2020 election cycle, Latino voters were crucial to both parties in races up and down the ticket in every state. Earlier today, national and state Latino leaders gathered to discuss Latino voter’s impact and discussed their experiences mobilizing Latino voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, nationally and in other key states. In the 2020 cycle, 7 out of 10 Latino voters supported the Biden/Harris ticket nationally and a strong majority favored Biden/Harris over Trump/Pence in every single state and the District of Columbia. Latino voters made their voices heard and are a powerful political force nationally and locally, now and in the future. 

Experts discussed their stories in mobilizing Latino voters and what the growth and power of the Latino vote means for both parties and for policies moving forward. 

Moderator Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Deputy Vice President, UnidosUS, said, “The Latino vote proved critical and was largely powered by the energy and years-long work by and for our community. Seven in 10 Hispanic voters nationally, and a majority in every state, helped deny a second term to an incumbent President who in word and action attacked this community. And regardless of how we voted, Hispanic voters are aligned on critical issues our community wants addressed: an effective and equitable response to the pandemic that includes citizens and immigrants regardless of their status, job creation and better wages, and lowering health care costs. And, along with the majority of American voters across race and gender, we want to see an immigration system America can be proud that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants living and working here.”

Danny Caracheo, Immigrant Rights Organizer with Michigan United said “In Grand Rapids, we saw a record-breaking turnout. For example, at the polling location where I volunteered as a poll watcher/translator, a predominantly Spanish speaking neighborhood where a lot of families are living at the margins. Approximately 1/4th of registered voters showed up to vote in-person on November 3rd. That is twice the turnout that this neighborhood normally sees. That’s also not including the absentee ballots. Thanks to the hard work that organizers across the state did to educate citizens about their voter rights in multiple languages, issue education meetings and candidate forums, and lastly efforts to drive voters to the polls. All these communities will now be better represented at their City Hall, Lansing, and D.C.”

Thais Carrero, Pennsylvania Director of CASA in Action said, “Though they’re a small part of Pennsylvania’s electorate, Latinos came out in full force for Biden-Harris and were pivotal in helping deliver the state needed to claim victory. In a sea of disenfranchisement and disinformation from the White House, CASA in Action’s voter empowerment campaign led 1.2 million engagements with people who would normally not vote. With 300,000 new Latino voters in the state since the last presidential election, we know that voters of color are an unstoppable force resilient in the face of constant attacks on our families, our jobs, and our health. Just as we showed up for them, the Biden-Harris administration must show up for us through the policy decisions they make come January.”

Daniel Valdez, North Carolina Director for Hispanic Federation, said, “From coast to coast, including in North Carolina, Latinos came out in record numbers during this election, and the vast majority voted for progressive solutions to healthcare, education, and the environment. Since 2004 the number of Latino voters in the state has increased twenty-fold – from 10,000 to over 200,000 voters in this year’s election. The fact that the turnout was so high, despite COVID and perpetual under-investment in Latino communities, is a testament to the work of Latino-led advocacy groups who made millions of culturally-competent connections with Latino voters in this cycle, and who work year round to develop those connections and build that trust. With the proper investments, Latinx voter participation will only continue to grow and play a crucial role in local and statewide elections in North Carolina and across the country.”

Thomas Kennedy, Florida Coordinator of United We Dream Action, said, “Despite four years of the most racist, cruel, and anti-immigrant policies and despite a pandemic that has disproportionately killed and impacted black and brown people, despite mass voter suppression and misinformation, our people showed up at the polls and we were able to push back. United We Dream Action members reached out to at least two million low propensity and undecided Latinx youth and first time voters across the country. Turning our attention to Florida, I know a lot of folks have written stories about what happened in Miami-Dade, but dared not to list the actual story that is 7 in 10 Latinx voters supported the Biden/Harris ticket, some of the highest levels of support came from Latinos 18-39 and Latinos over 65. More victories like this are possible through grassroots community organizing. It will take time, it will take investments on all fronts but we must strengthen civic participation and infrastructures so we’re not just reaching out to voters in an election year. It’s time for Democrats to fully invest in voters of color year round instead of investing in party infrastructure and relationship building only during an election. Democrats need to put more resources into developing the next generation of immigrants, multiracial, multi-issue organizers that can withstand the electorate. There are many more votes to be won among the multiracial majority of this country, and we need to focus on building a long-term party that looks like us and invests in us.”

Danny Friedman, Managing Director, Voto Latino, said “Despite the discussion of the blue wall being restored as a fixed point for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that’s a wall that has been  rebuilt with the votes of Latinos. Those states in the upper midwest that were competitive had margins of Latinos that helped create opportunities for the president-elect. So at Voto Latino, we played a major role in registering and mobilizing low-propensity Latinx voters to the polls in multiple swing states. 73% of those that we registered at Voto Latino were between the ages of 18 and 39. That younger demographic was critical for the Latinx vote. 58% of those we registered are women, Latinas. Overall, 54% of those the organization registered were first-time voters and we registered folks who did not vote in 2016. We helped expand the electorate all over the country. At the beginning of the 2020 cycle, we set out to register 500,000 voters. We ended up successfully registering more than 600,000 voters, targeting states that would be critical in the presidential contest and, in particular, focusing on issues that relate to our community. We mobilized 3.7 million voters across these states and raised $33.2 million to invest into education and engagement in registration efforts. In Wisconsin, in particular, we registered 7,121 folks. And, when you consider the total amount in the split, it ended with a split of 20,540 votes between the two figures. 

“We can talk very clearly about the early vote in Wisconsin with some very direct data. For the early vote, 19,218 Latinx voters cast early ballots compared with 5,000 in 2016 and 3,100 in 2018. So, a huge increase. 23.8% of Latinx votes in the state came from that younger demographic of Latinx voters between 18 and 39. Again, huge increase over 2016 and 2018, a 424% increase over 2016 and a 693% increase over 2018. 

“So, again, there’s been a lot of exciting political dialogue about the place of the Latinx electorate in the southwest and the south. But the story of the Latinx electorate is a nationwide one. And so when folks start to do the analysis of the upper Midwest states, they can’t forget the fact that the Latinx portion of that electorate is both growing and is an important part of the civic life in those communities.” 

Esteban Garces, Co-Executive Director, Poder Latinx said, “The largest share of Georgia’s electorate is young voters. When compared to other states, it’s a much more progressive voting bloc. It’s also a state where voters lacked critical information before the Nov. 3 election about the voting process. But we made ourselves available to answer questions, such as, how to request an absentee ballot, fill out a ballot, or find early voting locations. For many voters, this was the first time they ever received a door knock for an election and that knock also came from us. 

“We made 225,000 calls this past cycle and pledge to stay involved to make another 330,000 calls to Latinx voters ahead of the January special US Senate elections. Our Georgia community has a real stake in this election.”