Latinos take a turn in Arizona

Arizona Latinos account for nearly 30% of our state’s population according to the Pew Research center. Of that 30%, 24% are eligible voters. So, what does this mean for the Latino vote in Arizona, and how did that contribute to the state flipping blue on the presidential ballot for the first time since 1996? 

Latinos historically tend to vote Democrat, but in recent years we have seen an increase in Republican support from the Latino community, specifically in Texas and Florida. So why is Arizona the exception?  

Comprehensive analyses of Arizona’s voter demographics will take months to surface, but based on polls from CNN and other national news sources, Biden won the Arizona Latino vote. However, what is more important is that his margins in these communities seems to have narrowed. 

The most prominent election issue Latinos cited was immigration. According to Eduardo Sainz of Mi Familia Vota, a grassroots organization that promotes the Latino vote, immigration was his greatest motivation for this year’s election. However, an overlooked motivation was concern for family.  

Many Latino voters in Arizona cast their votes based on past experiences living in the state, and many cite SB1070  as an example of why they voted blue this november. This election needs to serve as a lesson for those seeking the Latino vote; last-minute outreach efforts, pandering, and symbolic efforts do not work with most of the state’s Latino voters. 

According to Pew Research Center, in 2020 the Latino population surpassed the Black population as the largest non-white voting group. Given this data, Latinos want more representation within and outreach from the major political parties.  

Arizona had a record turnout among Latinos, but more specifically Maricopa County’s largely Latino precincts. These precincts, however, were not made up of the consistent Democrat turnout one might expect. The Arizona Republic released an analysis that illustrated the fact Donald Trump performed better this year in Maryvale and South Phoenix then he did previously. It is worth noting that he lost in these precincts by considerable margins, but nonetheless slimmed his margins among these communities. 

Leading up to the election, Trump made several visits to Arizona in an attempt not only to rally his base but also to win over our state’s conservative Latinos who have helped elect Republicans in the past. 

Latino organizers within the state share the opinion that Democrats do not realize the power in community-centric organizing. What politicians and the major political parties must realize is that in order to win the Latino vote there needs to be an understanding that Latinos in Florida, California, New Mexico, and Arizona are all different and have different experiences. 

An accurate understanding of Latino voters in Arizona has to be based on more than just the Latino communities in other states like Florida. As such, the same strategy employed in one area will not work in another. In this election both parties made the mistake of assuming that what appeals to Latino voters in California or Texas, will work here in Arizona.

Diego Píña is an undergraduate at Arizona State University and a Junior Fellow with the Arizona Chamber Foundation.

Guest Contributor

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