Opinion: Putting in the work to win the Latino vote


With 32 million eligible voters, the 2020 election will be the first time Hispanics – Latinos are the largest racial or ethnic group in the electorate. In the final sprint to an unprecedented presidential election, both Republican and Democratic candidates have hardly earned our support.

While most narratives remain stagnant around the electorate’s unresponsive behavior, the short-sighted assumptions lack essential context. Most importantly, candidates have inadequately addressed how Black and Brown community members face structural barriers to exercise their votes. According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), Black and Hispanic participants were twice as likely as white study participants unable to get time off work for voting.

And we have to ask ourselves: 

  • Why would a voter risk their job for a candidate who has made minimal effort to demonstrate a real opportunity to act in their self-interest?
  • Which candidate could effortlessly speak to nationalities or diaspora to accurately reference populations or individuals, rather than leaning on the interchangeability between terms like Hispanics, Latinos, or Latinx?
  • What have voters seen thus far that indicate a candidate’s ability to truly empathize with immigrants’ experiences spanning across LATAM and Mexico? 
  • How has either presidential candidate have yet to direct proper attention to American citizens in Puerto Rico intelligently and with great intention? 

While information needs and access issues are apparent, trying to claim the electorate as under-informed at their own doing is imprecise.

Leading up to November 3, the Commission on Presidential Debates didn’t do our community any favors by, once again, consciously excluding us on the most visible stage to the American public. We’re certainly not a monolith, but a voice that can address economy, health care, immigration, and other key constituent issues from a marginalized perspective – the key to driving informed voters to the polls. Voters may feel that a particular burden falls solely on their shoulders, but it is a collective public concern in reality.

There is a change to note that has next to nothing to do with the candidates’ effort and understanding. In this election and elections to come, a notable demographic shift is naturally occurring. 

The Hispanic electorate budding from the 12.4 million Hispanics turned 18 between 2000 and 2018, is cited by Pew Research that it accounts for 80% of the population’s eligible voters’ growth. Additionally, understanding the changing racial and ethnic composition in key states helps illustrate upcoming voting trends. These racial and ethnic groups are also not monolithic; there is undoubtedly diversity in views and experiences, often varied based on their family’s origin. But as the 2020 presidential election approaches, these demographic shifts are particularly notable in some key battleground states such as Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan. 

Changes in the demographic composition could certainly impact on election outcomes. 

And for candidates to capitalize on this shift? 

The Biden campaign must have consistent and sincere communication with Latinos, especially between the ages of 18-29. Connecting, reminding, and sharing aloud gives a chance to afford change and spark imagination. This is the active and diligent outreach it takes to mobilize our communities. Whereas Donald Trump has done little in his four years in office and doesn’t seem to be on any path leading to gain majority Latino support.

Votes may certainly be given. But the candidate willing to do the work, demonstrate their ability to share space, and bring us to the table, will be the one who earns the Latino vote.