Much like an old western movie, the Latino vote came riding in on a shiny, white horse to save the West with its impressive and historic voter turnout. Latino voter turnout significantly increased from 11 million in the 2012 presidential election to almost 14 million last Tuesday. The partisan divide was evident as Latinos voted strongly anti-trump and pro-democrat with only 18% of Latinos supporting Donald Trump. The Latino vote is NOT a sleeping giant like many pundits assumed but instead, it’s a force to be reckoned with that is only rapidly growing and will continue to be the deciding factor in many key races. As our population grows with the average age being 27 and 1 in 4 school children being Latinos, this past Tuesday was reflective of our relevance and it offers a sign of hope for our community who lives in fear of the days to come.
In Nevada, Latinos helped deliver stunning blows to the Republican ticket by voting 81% for Hillary Clinton. The impetus lies in Vegas, which is home to one of the largest undocumented Latino communities per capita. The significance lies in the thousands of registered Latino voters whose families and friends are affected by the broken immigration system and became one of Donald Trump’s main targets in his campaign. As a result, thousands of Latinos made their voices heard keeping the state blue and electing Catherine Cortez Masto as the first Latina U.S. Senator along with the state’s first Latino Congressman, Ruben Kihuen. Colorado was another example of the Latino vote being instrumental in delivering the state to Hillary and winning the U.S. Senate race for the Democrats. In Arizona, Latinos voted for Paul Penzone as Sheriff in Maricopa County, to replace Joe Arpaio, the poster child of the anti-immigration movement who served 6 terms and was beat by 11 points. In Florida, Darren Soto will represent the 9th Congressional District as the first Puerto Rican of its state to serve in Congress. In California, where the Latino population is more pronounced, Nanette Barragan, Salud Carbajal, and Lou Correa add on to the new Members of the largest class of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. These victories are just a glimpse into the ever-increasing impact the Latino vote will have on future elections.
The catalyst the Latino vote created in congressional races wouldn’t have been possible without some key ingredients. Much credit for the wins go to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for mentoring these new leaders and BOLD PAC as well as its Chairman, Congressman Tony Cardenas for investing in these races. BOLD PAC played an integral role in the Democratic primaries and secured the victories for Barragan, Carbajal, Correa, Kihuen, and Soto. Another important factor was the efforts of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and its Chairman, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. Congressman Lujan had the most comprehensive bilingual mobilization and GOTV operations I’ve seen in my 25 years of campaign experience. I give Congressman Lujan and his staff full credit for making the internal changes needed to past practices and for embodying the true essence of diversity that is needed in the Democratic Party.
The presidential election did not result how most Democrats had expected, but there was definitely a silver lining providing hope by the impact of the Latino vote which is positioned to only increase in the future. Much like John Wayne, the Latino vote and efforts made by our pioneers in the political world, the West was saved and will continue to be a sanctuary for our community. With the projected policy positions from a Trump administration, the Latino vote has reminded us of the hard work our community is comprised of and the importance of participating beyond presidential elections to continue demonstrating we are NOT going anywhere and we demand to be heard.