A record 32 million Latinos are projected to be eligible to vote in 2020, yet we have not been proportionately represented on the political platform issues of either candidate.
Both the incumbent and the Democratic presidential nominee featured Latinos on their virtual conventions, but the Hispanic platform issues were hard pressed to compete with the prevalent focus on COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice narrative focusing on African Americans. The lack of representation has prompted social media narratives and Latino groups to organize in national get-out-the-vote efforts by the campaigns and non-profit community groups. Regardless of our mixed conservative or liberal passions–a recognition that we have the power to change the outcome of the 2020 election is the proverbial “elephant in the room” for many Latinos across the country.
As a result, Latinos are paying close attention to the candidates and are not staying quiet. This summer, for example, the Latino outcry for attention and respect broke through the clutter of media when Vice President Biden responded to a question from National Public Radio’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro who asked if Biden would re-engage with Cuba as president. Biden responded, “Yes, yes. And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.” The inference was on the effect reengaging with Cuba will have on the conservative Cuban American voter block in Florida.
Political analysts fired back, and Black public opinion agreed. Considering Latinos are a mixed race–some of us self-define as white Latino, others as Black Latinos–this gave fodder for myriad racial bias analysis, since arguably Blacks are diverse in their own political profile. One thing is certain, we are diverse within our Hispanic heritage. Let’s consider that older Latinos regardless of immigration, exile, or refugee experience tend to be more conservative and see things differently. They may also be as militant against undocumented arrivals. A review of history would show that Latin Americans, in great part rooted in Spanish colonialism and slavery, have endured social injustice as infamous as the North American counterparts. Furthermore, there are many white Latinos who are racist and their denial is additional cause for heated discussions among families who debate institutional racism. Latinos basically reflect the same diversity and political polarization prevalent across the various United States population. Biden may win on the debated point on how diverse Latinos really are.
Earlier this summer, the Miami Herald pointed out, and political research indicates, that support for the President is real and stronger than it was in 2016, despite Trump’s offensive language and policies that disproportionately target and affect Latinos and other minorities.
Winning Florida is the crown jewel of both campaigns because no candidate has won the election without Florida. Fast forward and in the last weeks and in spite of the public opinion roller coaster we’ve had this year, the latest polls in Florida have Biden leading Trump 49.3% to 44.2% based on an average polling derived from polls conducted by Quinnipiac, The New York Times, Reuters, CNBC-The Washington Post, and the University of North Florida, among other institution.
To see updated polling since publishing go to:
Complicated? Sí. The social media chatter among Latinos is intense. Right wing voters fearing a “second exile,” (i.e., Cubans and Venezuelans) are concerned that communism will surely destroy the U.S. if Biden wins. While liberal Latino counterparts already feel they live in a white supremacist fascist state and are as concerned about the policies and beliefs of the incumbent and fear the end of democracy as we know it. So, the political pundits will ask –are the candidates taking the Latino vote for granted? The President demonstrated otherwise in a controversial move promoting Goya from the oval office after the CEO’s controversial endorsement. The press challenged the ethics of endorsing a product from the Oval Office but the move garnered media traction, which some applauded while others chose to boycott the brand.
Latinos may not be a priority platform issue for the presidential candidates, but we are disproportionately impacted by the country’ s economic crisis and the social, racial divide in the country. MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, former staff of the Obama and Hillary Clinton Campaigns, has studied identity politics and authored The End of White Politics, Harvard Books. Maxwell understands that, “The times–and the demographics-are changing, and in order for progressive politics to prevail, we must acknowledge our shortcomings, take ownership of our flaws, and do everything in our power to level the playing field for all Americans. The End of White Politics shows exactly how and why progressives can lean into identity politics, empowering marginalized groups, and uniting under a common vision that will benefit us all.”
A noble aspiration, yet the sheer number of Latinos have not always translated to unity or a large voter turnout. That must change. In 2018, a surge of Latino voters cast their ballots in California. Manuel Pastor, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California has referred to the group as the “sleeping giant.” Pastor says, “Part of it is — in particular for immigrants and working people — life is just so busy, and politics seems very distant. It’s only when it begins to deeply affect your life and the life of your family and I think that this is one of those years in which paying a lot of attention would be a good idea.”
Latinos from coast to coast seem to be paying more attention. From Florida to California, Latino communities are as diverse as the Nation. The older Latino voter tends to be more religious as first-generation immigrants and tend to have a more conservative value system engrained in deep cultural roots, family values, and traditions passed down to new generations. Let’s consider Florida, with its large retirement community that has changed considerably in the last few years. There has been a large influx of younger Puerto Ricans (U.S. Citizens), displaced from the island territory after Hurricane Maria. This migration has resulted in a dramatic shift in the state’s voter profile. The demographic landscape transformed by Puerto Ricans in Orlando is assumed to vote Democrat, which promises to alter the older, conservative and historic Cuban and growing Venezuelan Republican voting bloc. Latinos can very well decide the 2020 presidential election.
According to www.politicalresources.com the older generation historically outperforms the younger generation at the polls. In the 2016 U.S. elections, the elders contributed to 49% of the votes, while being only 43% of the population. The youth, (predominantly represented in the social unrest movement for racial justice), will play a significant role if they turn out to vote. Regardless of the cultural and generational diversity among Latinos, the important thing is for all Latinos to make their vote count. At the end of this election cycle, social unrest, institutional racism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis will continue to impact Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Indigenous Americans and the LGBTQ community especially—voting matters and impacts all of us as Americans.
This election can be historic for Latinos to claim a political piece of the pie. Regardless of your political affiliation, it is imperative to get out the vote and demonstrate the power we have in the election outcome. Comunicad appeals to its more than 500 NGO partners across the country to mobilize the vote. Grassroots efforts led by trusted community partners is critical to engage constituents and validate that every vote matters.
Get out the vote! ¡Votar es Fácil!
President and CEO