Over Two-thirds US Latino Voters Coalesced for 2020 Democratic Victories
Andrés E. Jiménez Montoya, President and CEO, Américas.

Now that we can assess with more voter data and the wisdom of some elapsed time
since the US 2020 general elections, we can draw a number of important conclusions about
the role of US Latina and Latino voters in the outcomes and determination of winners.

1) Latino voters reached our largest turnout in history for the November 3, 2020 election,
numbering about 16.6 million voters, based on the analysis of the UCLA Latino Policy
and Politics Initiative (LPPI), a nearly 35% increase over the 2016 US presidential
election. Taken together, Latina and Latino voters equaled the vote of African
Americans nationally;

2) The vote was overwhelmingly Democratic for those of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central
American, and Dominican origin. The exceptions that were not the rule or dominant
story were the relatively small numbers (among Latino voters) of Cuban origin voters
in South Florida and a sector of Texas Mexican voters in the Rio Grande Valley of
Texas who continued a pattern of voting Republican; and

3) US Latina and Latino voters coalesced as a key part of the electorate that voted for
Democrats and secured both the Electoral College and popular vote victory for
President Biden and Vice President Harris as well as other key down ballot voting. We
were part of a winning coalition together with other communities of color and 43% of
white voters.

A number of journalists, scholars, and political consultants have affirmed following
the November 2020 elections that it is inaccurate to speak of a US “Latino Vote.” Instead,
they correctly point out that we should view our electorate as being part of the diverse
community of Latina and Latino voters. Latino voters reached their highest number in
history, numbering no less than 16.6 million. This total equaled the vote share with African
American voters. Together, our two groups represented over a quarter of the US electorate.
As The Guardian reported on 3 November 2020, a record number of Latino voters cast
their ballots, with about 8.6 million voting prior to election day.

Varying by state, Democrats and progressives across the US – and especially in swing
states – worked to galvanize young Latinos. In Arizona, activists who have been engaged
in a decade-long project to register and turn out Latino voters to deliver the longtime
conservative bastion for Democrats up and down the ballot. The sheer number of Latino
voters in Arizona and their overwhelming support for Joe Biden flipped the state from
Republican to Democrat for the first time since 1996. In Arizona and other battleground
states of Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina, 33% of early votes
came from people who did not cast a ballot in 2016. The voter registration group
VotoLatino alone had registered more than 601,330 voters for the November 2020 election,
about three-fourths of whom are between the ages of 18 and 39. The table below represents
the dramatic growth of the US Latino voter population since the 2000 general election:

Latino Voter Turnout 2000-2020 (Millions)
2020 16,600,000
2016 12,650,000
2012 11,188,000
2008 9,745,000
2004 7,587,000
2000 5,934,000

US mainstream and corporate media outlets often chose to focus on the exceptions
to the larger voting trends of Latino voters, pointing to support for the Trump candidacy
from voters from the Cuban community in South Florida and Texas Mexican Americans,
or tejanos, from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. In fact, as shown in the findings of
the election analysis by UCLA LPPI: Latino voters supported Biden by very wide margins
across the country, consistent with margins won by Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Latino voters supported Biden over Trump by a nearly 3 to 1 margin in the counties
analyzed by LPPI in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, New
York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Latinos chose Biden over Trump with a 2 to 1 margin
or larger in the counties LPPI analyzed in Texas, Georgia, and Washington, and in Florida
outside of Miami-Dade. In Georgia and Wisconsin, where the difference between the
winning and the losing candidate was roughly 12,000 and 21,000 votes, Latino voters’
strong support for Biden and growth in votes cast helped tip these states in favor of the
Democratic candidate. As could be expected, Latino voters in Florida reflected a diversity
unique given based on geography and national origin. Latinos in largely Cuban origin
Miami-Dade supported Trump by a 2 to 1 margin, but Latinos in the rest of the state,
principally of Puerto Rican origin, preferred Biden with a 2 to 1 margin. Overall, a
majority of Latinos in Florida voted for Biden, not Trump.

Ultimately, the historic victory of President Joseph R. Biden y Vice President
Kamala Harris on November 3, 2020 and the Democratic Party US Senate majority won in
Georgia on January 5, 2021 was the product of a de facto electoral coalition of voters that
included African Americans, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and
43% of the so-called “White” voter. While no single national origin or ethnic group can
receive credit for being the sole reason for these victories, voters from communities of
color together played a decisive role in the swing state victories that led President-elect
Biden to emerge victorious in the US Electoral College. The sheer number of Latino,
Asian and Pacific Islander, African American, and Native American votes in California
drove a good part of the popular vote advantage for Joe Biden. As a result, we can surely
say that this was a victory of people of color, women, urban and suburban voters, led in its
relative numbers by African American and Latino voters. None of these electoral groups
operate in isolation.

The point from now on is to make deliberate and conscious this coalition of voters
organized in their own unique ways in regions and states across the United States. As we
approach the future, we can anticipate that non-party electoral mobilization groups and

emergent groups in the Democratic Party will work to make the voter of color coalition
more deliberate over time.

Andrés E. Jiménez Montoya is President and CEO of Américas in Oakland, California and
Director Emeritus of the California Policy Research Center, University of California.

Categories: Elections


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