Long overlooked by the political establishment and dismissed as a sleeping giant of a demographic that didn’t vote as reliably as it could, an estimated 32 million Latinos were eligible to vote in 2020. They are expected to make up the largest nonwhite ethnic voting bloc in 2020. However, Latino voters are not monolithic. Latino voters represent a variety of backgrounds and vote accordingly.
Ethnic and racial diversity is an increasing reality in American society and politics. Latino citizens are the largest demographic group after Caucasians, and they are the second fastest growing demographic after Asian Americans. With each passing election, claims of potential Latino political influence increase and efforts to harness that influence grow. In the 2000 presidential race, for example, both parties made substantive and symbolic outreach to Latinos.
The 2020 election showed that much of what moves Latino voters — and all voters for that matter — happens at the local level. That’s where you find committed organizers and interest groups, working diligently in their own communities, district by district, county by county, state by state. But it is also important to remember that Latinos are not a monolith. The differences between communities are vast and Cuban immigrants are different from El Salvadorans. The U.S. is home to an estimated nearly 61 million Latinos, according to the Pew Research Center, and range in age, race, gender, religion, socio-economic status, political ideology and educational attainment.
Latinx interest groups are at the center of growing Latinx political power. Groups such as LULAC, Voto Latino, NALEO, and Mi Familia Vota are working to organize Latinos into a powerful political force. In states like Texas and California, Latino citizens make up 30% of the eligible electorate. Mobilizing Latino voters into turning out will provide a key strategy to increasing Latino political power within the United States in the years to come.
Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.
“The Latino Vote: The ‘Sleeping Giant’ Awakens”
“Why It’s a Mistake to Simplify the ‘Latino Vote’”
“Op-Ed: Look to the local to understand the ‘complex’ Latino vote”
“Latino group ‘Mi Familia Vota’ announces a $10M voter turnout campaign”
“In Democrats’ bid to flip Texas, maximizing the Latino vote is key”
“Puerto Ricans in Florida could pick the next president”
“Mi Familia Vota”
- Debate: The diversity of Latino backgrounds makes it hard to reliably categorize their interests.
- Because Latino voters are concentrated in only a few states, they are not important components of the national electorate.
- Poll: Getting contacted by a group that I identify with would make it more likely that I would vote.
- James Madison was right. Having a lot of different groups representing different interests will cause them to balance each other out. No group will have too much power.
- Short Answer: Several articles dispute the notion that Latino voters are a “sleeping giant.” Why?
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