The answer to Arizona flipping blue could be through the Latinx vote
Latinx voters may be the key to narrowing the gap in Arizona. But is it too late?
Arizona has long been lauded to be firmly Republican for decades, but the voter gap between Democrats and Republicans has been closing in recent years. Now, Arizona is regarded as a “purple” state, but this year, the cards have aligned for a possible flip to blue.
Ahead of the 2020 election, the Latinx demographic is set to be the largest non-white voting demographic eligible to hit the polls. The emphasis comes amid a year riddled with voter suppression, a global pandemic, and the risk of a Census undercount.
Despite all this, throughout 2020, Latinx voters have been engaged in the process like never before. This could prove to be pivotal in Arizona.
Over the last decade, Latinx voters in Arizona have become more involved in politics in response to the anti-immigrant agenda and inhumane tactics of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and their proximity to questionable immigration tactics near the border.
This year alone, issues that Latinx voters hold dear like healthcare, and a thriving economy, have been completely decimated in less than a year. COVID-19 has shown Latinos what the current administration really thinks of them, despite the popularity of groups such as Latinos for Trump.
But on the whole, Latinx voters are realizing what’s at stake for their futures.
It’s a shift that’s been a long time coming, reports POLITICO even before Trump’s election. Though it has been exacerbated by the Arizona GOP’s regression from John McCain’s approach to the party to Trump’s chaos.
Now, the race between appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally and former Navy pilot and astronaut, Mark Kelly, could further tip the scale towards Democrats in Arizona.
McSally was appointed to fill McCain’s seat after his death by Gov. Doug Ducey after she lost a statewide election for Senate. Kelly currently leads McSally by an average of 6.6 points.
This is a sign not only of the potential power we’re about to witness by Latinx voters, but also a sign of a shift in ideology among young, white voters — particularly college graduates of recent years.
“Latino voter turnout has been growing, and then there’s moderate white voters that are breaking toward Biden. And, really, both have been needed to create this Democratic wave,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) told POLITICO.
The Latinx vote has tremendous potential to make a historic impact in the Desert Southwest, and swing states overall, but this is only if Biden’s message reaches the electorate. At 22 days before Election day, the stakes grow increasingly higher, and the time to reach these voters grows shorter.
Politicians too often fall into the trap of dismissing the Latinx community because historically, we are not known to show up to the polls in our fullest capacity. In 2016, less than half of eligible Latinx voters cast a ballot in the election.
But again, this too is changing.
“27% of the Latino vote that is in so far did NOT vote in 2016! And 5 times more Latinos have voted compared to 2016. This is NOT a poll but actual real people with name, address, and phone numbers. We take them off the list for GOTV calls and mail now,” wrote Chuck Rocha on Twitter, the man behind Sen. Bernie Sanders’ extraordinary mobilizing efforts among Latinx voters.
27% of the Latino vote that is in so far did NOT vote in 2016! And 5 times more Latinos have voted compared to 2016. This is NOT a poll but actual real people with name, address, and phone numbers. We take them off the list for GOTV calls and mail now. #idothisforaliving
— Chuck Rocha (@ChuckRocha) October 12, 2020
Biden’s Latino strategy has largely focused on virtual campaigns and releasing plans that specifically target certain Latinx demographics, like his recent Puerto Rico plan.
But the record mobilization of Latinx voter advocacy does not solely boil-down to Biden.
Latinx voter advocacy groups like Voto Latino have reported a surge in registrations, an act that could end up being one of the defining factors in tipping the election towards Joe Biden.
In Arizona, the Phoenix-based Hispanic voyager advocacy organization, Mi Familia Vota, has reported similar numbers and even launched its #BastaTrump campaign in an effort to mobilize more voters in similarly poised swing states.
Voter registration in Arizona is looking favorable to Democrats, and while they do not yet have the majority, we are seeing the Republican advantage shrink. Nearly a third of the state is Latino, and while we must see if this record voter registration will translate effectively to concrete voting power, they are likely to side Democratic.
We can’t lose sight of the strength of Trump’s campaign, especially in Arizona, but Latinx voters will have a critical role to play in just under 20 days. It’s a factor that may result in the Grand Canyon State slipping away from him.