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In an article for Vox, Li Zhou interviews political science experts regarding the challenge of mobilizing Latino voters. Recent polling shows that voters are angry with Trump and his administration for his cruelty regarding immigration policies, but that does not mean they will show up to vote. The experts agree: for Democrats and progressives interested in generating a blue wave, the way to turn Latino anger into votes is to Invest in the mobilization of Latino voters.
Zhou’s article is excerpted below:
“Even though the president seems to be trending negative, his numbers among Hispanic and Latino voters aren’t nearly as bad as they are among some other groups.… Democrats need to dial up their efforts on voter outreach if they want to channel this sentiment into actual support at the polls in November, experts say. The party has long banked on support from Hispanic and Latino voters, who could be key for flipping purple states and districts — but has struggled to actually get them to the polls on Election Day. This is, in large part, because it hasn’t invested enough resources into actually connecting with voters, according to experts.”
Matt Barreto, Latino Decisions, managing partner
“Our polling of Latinos has found a sharp increase in frustration and anger with Trump and his policies over the past 18 months. From his repeal of DACA to his policy of child separations, Latino voters are expressing an all-time high in terms of anger. There is a sense in the Latino community that Trump is increasing discrimination, racism, and hate-speech against Latinos and immigrants, and this has become a call to action for many Latinos today.
The big question for 2018 is whether or not civic groups, campaigns, and candidates turn this anger into action in the form of voter turnout. Anger by itself does not guarantee a surge in voting. Voters have to believe that through their vote, they are alleviating their frustration and that the candidate they vote for will work to solve the issues they are angry about.”
Ricardo Ramirez, Notre Dame, associate professor of political science
“If Democrats assume that they can expect higher voter turnout based on feelings of political threat or angst without investing in voter mobilization, this will likely lead to disappointing electoral participation.
On the other hand, if Democrats invest in voter mobilization of Latino voters, they can harness the negative sentiments about this administration among Latino and help their candidates at statewide and down-ballot races.”
Margaret Commins, Queens University, associate professor of political science
“…it’s not surprising that there is strong disapproval of the president among Hispanics. The effects of immigration policy and enforcement changes hit this community hard.
Whether or not this disapproval will translate to a record number of Hispanics showing up to the polls in November? That’s doubtful. Latino voters make up about 12 percent of registered voters, and, according to Pew, 44 percent of these are millennials. Young people vote at significantly lower rates than other age groups, and this is true for Latino millennials as well.”
Melissa Michelson, Menlo College, political science professor
“I think Trump’s high negatives among Hispanics…are bad news for the Republican Party as we head into the midterm elections because Hispanic voters could be decisive in several key races.
Other polls have found that they are not just unhappy or unsatisfied with his administration, but that they are angry. Anger is a strong motivator to fight back, and one way folks do that in the United States is to vote against the incumbent political party in midterm elections.
If Democrats are able to channel that anger into votes, which they are working hard to do, that could be part of a blue wave in November that flips control of the House, and even maybe the Senate.
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a lecturer who studies elections at the University of Texas Austin
“You can use this [Trump’s unpopularity] as a big ingredient for mobilization, but you can’t just depend on it in itself.”