Today, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía joined MSNBC host, José Díaz-Balart to talk about new polls on Latino voters. Murguía also highlighted the potential power of the Latino vote this election and why it’s imperative that our community turn out to vote on Election Day this November. Watch the segment below:
By Loren McArthur, Deputy Director, Civic Engagement, NCLR
This two-part blog series explores the challenges and opportunities that a rising Hispanic electorate presents to both the GOP and Democrats. You can read Part I here.
The conventional narrative is that Democrats need only wait for the rising tide of Hispanic population growth to lift their political fortunes in Texas. But unless Democrats do a better job at mobilizing Hispanic voters, they may end up waiting for a long time. Just 39 percent of eligible Hispanic voters in Texas participated in the 2012 elections. The Center for American Progress projects that there will be more than 900,000 new eligible Hispanic voters in Texas by 2016. However, if Hispanics and non-Hispanics participate at rates similar to 2012, Latino vote share will essentially remain flat at 22 percent of the Texas electorate. Democrats can bend the curve on these trend lines, but doing so will require a concerted effort to reach out to Hispanic voters and speak to the issues important to the Hispanic community.
Many factors contribute to low Hispanic participation rates in Texas, but one that looms large is the lack of competitive races in districts where Latinos reside. As a result both of gerrymandering and geography, Latino voters are packed into just nine Hispanic opportunity districts on the congressional level. Virtually none of these districts are competitive. The absence of competitive races has translated into a lack of investment in Hispanic voter outreach. In 2012, just 25 percent of Hispanic voters in Texas reported being contacted by a campaign, political party, or community organization regarding voting. By comparison, in the swing states of Colorado and Nevada, 59 percent and 51 percent of Hispanic voters were contacted, respectively; and Latino participation rates were greater than 50 percent in both states. If Democrats want Texas to resemble Colorado and Nevada, they must make similar investments in Hispanic outreach.
Democrats must also provide substantive policy proposals that can galvanize Hispanics, who vote based on issues rather than party affiliation. Obama’s decision to stop deporting DREAMers is a good case study: 59 percent of Hispanic voters in Texas reported that they were more enthusiastic about his candidacy as a result of the policy. In 2014, health and education issues provide opportunities for Democrats in Texas to distinguish themselves from Republicans and attract Hispanic support and participation. In 2011, the Republican-controlled state legislature cut $5.4 billion in public education funding, with a disproportionate impact on Hispanics, who represent 48 percent of all public school students in Texas. Governor Perry’s decision to block Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has denied health insurance to 583,000 Hispanics.
Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, may be the Democrats’ best hope for galvanizing Hispanic voters in 2014. Van de Putte is Hispanic and a self-described “sixth generation Tejana.” As a state senator, Van de Putte has been a champion on issues important to Hispanics, including education and Medicaid expansion. In contrast, Dan Patrick, a potential Republican opponent, has used campaign rhetoric demonizing Hispanic immigrants, repeatedly calling for an end to the “illegal invasion from Mexico.” A general election contest between Van de Putte and Patrick would provide a real contrast for Latinos that could spur Hispanic participation.
In the governor’s race, Democrat Wendy Davis has made education a centerpiece of her campaign, an agenda that could resonate with Hispanic voters. Davis performed poorly in the Democratic primary in heavily Hispanic border counties; however, she has since stepped up her Hispanic outreach, making campaign appearances in a number of border communities. To attract and mobilize Hispanic voters, Davis must intensify her Hispanic outreach and prioritize issues important to the Hispanic community.
For the moment, gubernatorial candidates from both parties appear to recognize the importance of winning Hispanic voters: the Republican nominee, Greg Abbott, has declared his goal of surpassing George Bush’s record for Hispanic voter support. Having both Democrats and Republicans compete for the Hispanic vote is good for the Hispanic community. A growing and engaged Hispanic electorate should be welcomed by all those in Texas who want a strong economy, good schools, and healthy communities, since those are priorities shared by Hispanic voters.
By Loren McArthur, Deputy Director of Civic Engagement, NCLR
The 2012 elections were a powerful demonstration of the growing electoral influence of Latinos. Hispanic voters comprised 10 percent of the total vote—making them a decisive factor in electoral outcomes across the nation and helping to create a mandate for congressional action on immigration reform. While it is commonly presumed that Hispanic voters will be less influential in the midterm elections, close examination reveals that the Latino vote could have significant impact on congressional and gubernatorial races in 2014. An analysis by Latino Decisions suggests that Hispanic voters could determine the outcome of as many as 33 narrowly contested House seats, including 14 held by Republicans and 19 held by Democrats. The Hispanic vote also has potential to be highly influential in a number of tightly contested gubernatorial races, including the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania, with potential implications for the 2016 presidential race.
Latinos have had an indelible impact on the U.S. political landscape in recent elections, and they have untapped potential to exert even greater influence. Currently, 8.6 million Latinos are eligible to register to vote, but are not registered. When factoring in registered Hispanic voters who did not vote in 2012, the possible impact nearly doubles: there are almost as many potential Latino voters (11.1 million) as there are actual Latino voters (12.2 million). And the numbers will continue to grow. In the next 15 years, about 900,000 Hispanic U.S. citizens will turn 18 each year, yielding a total of more than 13.5 million potential new Hispanic voters.
Fully leveraging Hispanic electoral potential will require a sustained commitment to registering, educating, and mobilizing Latino voters. Since 2006, NCLR, its subsidiaries, and community partners have registered nearly 500,000 new Hispanic voters, and NCLR is doubling down on registration efforts in 2014. This week, NCLR and Mi Familia Vota announced the launch of their combined nonpartisan voter registration initiative, “Mobilize to Vote 2014.” The ambitious campaign, unprecedented in its scale for a midterm election year, aims to register 250,000 new Hispanic voters in 2014.
The stakes are high for the Hispanic community. At the federal level, the prospect of strong Hispanic electoral participation will be a spur to Congress to finish the business of immigration reform, as well as to address Latino priorities in the areas of housing, economic policy, and education, among other issues. The nation’s 36 gubernatorial races and state legislative elections will affect a host of state policy issues, including health reform implementation, voting rights, and state budget fights. State elections will also begin to shape the landscape for the 2020 redistricting process, with longer-term implications for Hispanic political representation in Congress. Strong Latino turnout in 2014 is essential to holding leaders at all levels of government accountable to the issues that concern Hispanics and continuing to increase the political voice of the community.
Increasing Latino electoral participation is important not only for Hispanic Americans—it is good for the country as whole. By 2050, one in three American workers and taxpayers will be Latino; ensuring their integration into the political process, as well as their long-term success and wellbeing, is vital to the health of our democracy and the future prosperity of the nation.
After weeks of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans in Congress finally emerged this week with a bipartisan $85 billion budget deal. Latinos all across the country are now paying close attention to what lawmakers do with that bill and to whether they can finally pass a budget that provides much-needed relief from the painful cuts imposed by the sequestration. A new survey from NCLR and Latino Decisions today shows further cuts could pose problems for Members in 2014 who vote to keep sequestration in place.
The poll of 800 registered Latino voters shows that we are dissatisfied with how Congress has handled federal budget policy. The dissatisfaction extends across party lines, too. There is hope, however, for those Members who vote to end the sequester cuts, and they stand to gain sifnificant support from Latinos.
Here’s what today’s survey reveals:
- Only 27 percent of Latino voters approve of how Republicans have handled the budgt; a whopping 63 percent disapprove
- Faring only somewhat better: 48 percent approve and 42 disapprove of how the Democrats have approached the federal budget
- 61 percent are more likely to vote for a member who supports ending sequestration and restoring funds for government programs
- 86 percent of Latinos are concerned about the automatic sequester cuts, including 71 percent of Latino Republicans
- An overwhelming 96 percent of Latinos would rather see investments in infrastructure and education to stimulate the economy.
- Support for increased investments is strong among both Latino Democrat at 99 percent and Latino Republicans, 95 percent
By Leticia Miranda, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Security Policy, NCLR
As senators consider which amendments to vote for as part of the Senate budget bill today, they should remember that Latino voters will hold them accountable at the ballot box for any anti-Latino votes made. The Senate budget bill is particularly dangerous because each amendment requires only a simple majority to pass. These votes will take place with only a few minutes of debate on each amendment in a dreaded process called vote-a-rama that often stretches into the middle of the night. Senators are not likely to have much advance notice of what the amendments will be.
If more than 51 senators vote for a slew of anti-Latino and anti-immigrant amendments, the stage will surely be negatively set for the upcoming immigration reform debates. Senate insiders have told me that likely amendments may be offered include one that would raise taxes on hardworking, taxpaying Latino families with children. Legislators are proposing cutting off access to the Child Tax Credit for taxpayers who use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs). We estimate that more than four million Latino children and their families could lose out on this valuable tax credit if this restriction passes, pushing these families back into poverty.