Los Angeles Times
By Lisa Mascaro
November 3, 2016
Voter enthusiasm among Latino voters is at an all-time high this year; as many as 15 million Latinos may cast ballots, and the boost is being reflected in some early voting trends.
Donald Trump’s racially divisive rhetoric — calling Mexicans “rapists” and attacking former Miss Universe Alicia Machado — has galvanized Latino voters against him.
More than 70% of Latinos say this election feels “more important” than 2012, and 80% now view the Republican Party as “hostile” or uncaring of Latinos, according to a Latino Decisions tracking poll.
Democrat Hillary Clinton remains very popular among Latinos and could win as much as 79% of the Latino vote, surpassing the 75% that President Obama won in 2012, according to Latino Decisions projections.
“It’s a combination of enthusiasm to stop Trump — which is probably the strongest driver — but you also see a percent of Latinos that just support Clinton,” said Gabriel Sanchez, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico.
"The Trump bump: That’s basically the reason it's driving up — to block Trump."
But some analysts say Latino voter registration has simply kept pace with population growth and is not spiking this year.
A USA Today survey of the 50 counties with the largest Latino populations in swing states found no Trump effect boosting registrations.
The Latino vote has long lagged behind its potential, and turnout may depend largely on voter registrations. Studies show that once registered to vote, Latinos turn out at the same rate as white voters.
But with the window for registrations closed, outside organization are flooding key states to mobilize voters to the polls with volunteers and Spanish-language ads, like one featuring 11-year-old Sarai Gonzalez, the breakout star of Bomba Estereo’s “Soy Yo” video.
Some states are showing an uptick. Florida has seen record Latino turnout for early voting — up more than 100% compared with this point in early voting four years ago, according to data from Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor.
Nevada’s Latino population also is highly organized for turnout, in large part because of the power of the culinary union. And in Texas, the El Paso Times reported record Latino early voting in three counties along the border with Mexico.
In North Carolina, Latino turnout already has topped 38,000 during early voting, according to Michael Bitzer, a professor at Catawba College. That’s more than half the total Latino ballots cast in 2012.
Still, Latino voter participation in the state has been less than 50% among eligible voters, lower than almost anywhere else in the country. That’s partly why advocacy groups have targeted the Tar Heel state along with other battlegrounds.
Among the legions of door-knockers canvassing neighborhoods this cycle are activists who are ineligible to vote because of their immigration or citizenship status but are pushing others to the polls.
Rogelio Reyes, 54, who has no car, has walked miles across Charlotte neighborhoods this year, talking to voters for the organizing group Action NC.
“One vote,” he said pounding the pavement recently, “is the difference.”
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