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The Latino vote monopolizes the spotlight in key states

Campaign posters outside the Coral Gables Library on the last day of early voting in Miami, November 1.David Santiago / AP

Hispanic voters have become the largest minority in the United States this year. Winning their vote in some key states may mean turning the polls upside down, the ultimate victory. With 32 million people entitled to vote, 13.3% of the US electorate, they have exceeded the number of registered African Americans, according to calculations by the research center. Pew Research Center. And the number does not stop growing every year.

The Latino vote, however, is not a bloc. Among the total of Latinos with the right to vote in the country, 59% are Mexican; 14% are Puerto Rican; 5% of Cuban origin and 22% of other Hispanic origins, according to figures from the same organization. In addition, the census data explains that the vast majority are not immigrants, much less undocumented. 75% were born in the United States, so their concerns are more like those of any other citizen. The coronavirus crisis, health insurance, wages and employment, are the main interests of this community of voters, above migration or racial justice, according to the Democratic-leaning pollster. Latino Decisions.

Their turnout at the polls since the 1980s has traditionally been low compared to other groups. The pollster points out that while more than 60% of the white or African-American population turn out to vote, Latinos only do so in 48%. Joe Biden’s campaign staff have raised concerns in the final stretch of the election about insufficient turnout by Black and Latino voters in key states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

Despite record early voting turnout across the country, Biden’s team has sounded alarms. In Arizona, two-thirds of registered Latino voters had not participated within four days of the election. In Florida, half of registered black and Latino voters did not either, but more than half of white voters had, according to data from Catalist, a Democratic data firm.

The so-called pendulum states – where both candidates have similar chances of winning – in which the participation of the Latino electorate can be decisive are, above all, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona. In these entities, which were stained Republican red in the 2016 elections, the focus will be on Tuesday with regard to Latino participation, since the turn towards the Democrats may depend on it, according to Equis Research, specialized in this group of voters and also of Democratic tendency.

In the case of Arizona, one of the entities that shares the most kilometers of the border with Mexico and has 24% of the Latino electorate, Trump won by just 90,000 votes. Here, the pollster estimates that if the participation of the white vote remains at 48% and that of Latinos grows to more than 18%, Joe Biden would have a chance to take over the state. In Pennsylvania, however, the Latino peso is barely 6%, but the margins between Republicans and Democrats are so narrow that they can end up deciding the election.

Florida represents a particular case. In this state, the Latino population is divided between Cubans and Venezuelans – with a traditionally Republican majority and against any formation with a progressive tinge – and Puerto Ricans, with a more democratic tendency. Both groups represent almost the total number of Hispanics in the state. Here, Biden would need high levels of turnout and also very high support, if white vote turnout is kept at 40%, in order to overturn the election.

The so-called “sleeping giant” adds nearly a million young voters each year. Early voting data showed a significant increase in under-30s (of all groups) who had voted en masse in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina within a week of the election. In the first entity, six times more people had already voted than in 2016 and in Florida, almost three times. A participation that in some cases can mean an advantage for Democrats, but some polls qualify it, because they have detected a growing acceptance of Trump among young Latino and conservative men.

The Republican won the White House in 2016 after insulting and criminalizing an entire community, calling them “rapists and murderers” and promising to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. After that campaign, the support of Latinos was almost 30%. Four years later, all the spotlights are back on the Hispanic vote.

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