MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Latinos are expected to be the largest minority voting bloc this November and could help determine the outcome of the presidential race, particularly in key states including Arizona, Florida and Texas.
From coast to coast, organizers and advocacy groups are trying to spread the word that 32 million Latinos are now eligible to vote, growth driven by young Latinos now of age to vote.
“We have been called for many, many years a sleeping giant,” said Frankie Miranda, president of the non-partisan Hispanic Federation. “But now we are seeing that many of the issues that have been so important during 2020, especially the disproportionate impact on our community because of COVID-19, have really motivated many Latinos to say I need to be part of this process.”
Miranda says the Latino vote is not monolithic. But he says there are overarching issues this year, especially around the pandemic.
“People are very concerned about COVID-19, people are very concerned in our community about access to healthcare, they’re very concerned about the loss of jobs, but also racial equity,” said Miranda.
Lucia Salinas of Phoenix says she lost her job in March, and she is now canvassing for political change.
“I had to go to the alleys and pickup metal, trash so I can get some money,” Salinas said. “And that’s why I feel this is so personal.”
While COVID is motivating many, some conservative Latinos in Miami, including some Cuban Americans, say they’re worried about the country moving too far left.
It’s a concern the president has tried to tap into during campaign Latino roundtables.
“We don’t want to have a socialist country. Some of you came from parts of the world where it is socialist or worse,” said President Trump at a September event in Phoenix.
Other Latino voters remain concerned about the Trump administration’s policies at the border and immigration reform.
“Donald Trump has failed the Hispanic community time and time again,” said Biden at a Hispanic Heritage event in Florida.
Both campaigns have stepped up efforts to aggressively court the Latino vote from the ground to the airwaves.
“I feel it’s my duty as a minority to share my voice and share my opinion,” said Linda Lino who voted early in New York last weekend.
While the group is growing in size and influence, the focus in the final stretch remains on making sure Latino voters register and show up to the polls.
Pew Research shows Latino turnout has lagged in past presidential elections, but the 2018 congressional midterms saw a surge in Latino turnout, doubling from 2014 levels.