The Tower Center and the Latino Leadership Center for Development cohosted an event, “The Latino Vote in the 2016 Election,” at Jones Day Law Office Sept. 20.
Matt Barreto, professor of political science at the University of California Los Angeles opened the discussion with a look at the potential of the untapped Latino electorate.
— LatinoCLD (@latinocld) September 20, 2016
The Latino population in the U.S. is significantly younger than the white population. As of November 18, 1.7 million Latinos will be 18 and eligible to vote, according to Barreto.
He argued that immigration remains to be the unifying issue that mobilizes voters, and used protests against Donald Trump to illustrate its unifying force. Eighty-one percent of Latinos polled after the Republican National Convention in Cleveland said that they found the GOP’s rhetoric “disturbing,” Barreto said. With Trump as the Republican nominee, the percentage of Latinos polling Republican has greatly declined since George W. Bush received 40 percent of the vote.
— Denise Gee SMU (@SMUdenisegee) September 20, 2016
The discussion continued with Texas Representative Cesar Blanco, who talked about the under-representation of Latinos in government rolls. Twenty-eight out of the 435 congressional seats and three of the 100 Senate seats are held by Latinos. Blanco, as interim director of the Latino Victory Project, is working to get Latino officials elected. “If you’re not at the policy table, you’re the lunch,” Blanco said.
A final takeaway from the discussion: Latinas are engaged at higher rates than Latinos. “Our research shows the most influential person in families for Latinos, in terms of politics, are their mothers or their wives,” Barreto said.