How Hispanic diversity played a role in how Latinos voted

Posted at 1:57 PM, Nov 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-07 15:57:47-05

DENVER -- Presidential candidates pushed for the Latino vote and experts say Hispanics showed up in record numbers and voted for both Republican and Democrats in 2020.

The Pew Research Center shows a projected 32 million Hispanics were eligible to vote in the 2020 election.

Joelle Martinez, the executive director of the Latino Leadership Institute at the University of Denver, says Hispanic Millennials and Generation Z increased voter participation by 315% compared to the 2016 presidential election.

“The Latino vote, logged at the end of 2020, will be well over 8 million; that is up 3.7 million in 2016, so Latinos doubled their vote,” Martinez said.

She says key issues like the pandemic, the economy, cultural history, and hardships play a role in how Hispanics vote.

“Cuban-Americans tend to lean Republican across the country by about 56% and we compare that to other Latinos that tend to lean more Democratic at upwards of 66%,” Martinez said.

In Colorado, she believes the Hispanic vote helped overturn a Republican senate seat and keep the state blue.

“Latinos in Colorado were key even to Hickenlooper's victory,” she said.

Based on early predictions, she believes it’s possible up to 325,000 Latinos voted in Colorado.

The largest population of Cubans outside of Cuba live in Florida and aided President Trump in the election. Cubans make up 5% of the electorate in Florida and 58% supported President Trump, according to the Associated Press. The Puerto Rican population and experts say they tend to vote Democrat.

In Arizona, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. got significant support from the Latino community. Hispanics in the state largely identify as Mexican-American. Experts believe they helped flip the state blue for the first time since 1996. Hispanics make up 18% of the electorate in Arizona and the Associated Press found that they backed Biden by 59%.

“The Latino vote can’t be monolithic and that is because we have different stories, we have different lived experiences,” Martinez said.

Jesse Acevedo, a political science assistant professor at the University of Denver, adds that hostility towards Hispanics in Arizona, like the approval of SB 1070 in 2010, a hard-line immigration policy that has since lost its edge, plays a role in the Hispanic vote. He adds that age also plays a vital part. Acevedo says the older Cuban population tends to vote more conservative while younger Hispanics tend to lean on the more progressive side.

“The youth turn out is a story of Latino turnout and that favored the Democrats,” Acevedo said.

The 2020 Latina Initiative, “I’m Latina and I Vote,” helped increase turnout during the election.

The organization used culturally sensitive digital ads to target nearly 23,000 Latina voters across Colorado between 18 and 34 years old. Katherine Archuleta, the co-founder of the Latina Initiative, says their goal was to target women who may have only voted once in the past three election cycles.

“We found that nearly 60% of them, by Friday afternoon of this past week, had voted,” she said.

It’s these grassroots organizations Acevedo says that boosted the Latino vote for presidential candidates in key states. Denver7 asked Acevedo how he would grade each candidate on their efforts to reach out to the Hispanic community. He gave Mr. Biden a “B,” and Mr. Trump a “D.”