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Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008, in Los Angeles, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Will the Latino Vote Really be Decisive in 2020?

That remains to be seen.

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“The Latino vote will be decisive in the coming elections.” We have been hearing this for a long time now, but so far it hasn’t been more than wishful thinking. And without a doubt, Donald Trump --who has managed to make corruption mainstream-- will use every dirty trick in his lengthy and despicable repertoire to avoid a large Latino participation.

In any case, it’s wise to be careful what you wish for, because a massive Latino turnout on election day may not guarantee the victory of the best (or the less bad) candidate. After all, 29% of (self-hating?) Latinos voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and he has much enthusiastic support among Florida and Texas Latino voters.

Yet, what is real is that demographics support the idea that this time Hispanics can really become the ones electing the next president, whoever that may be. For the first time, there are more Latino than Black potential voters, emphasis on “potential” since the Latino community failure to show up at the ballot box is historic. More than half of the 27 million eligible Latino voters did not exercise their rights in 2016.

It is encouraging that Latino support for Bernie Sanders keeps growing and becoming more solid, something that was tested in Nevada last Saturday for the first time.

"We believe health care is a human right for all people," Sanders said at a rally two weeks ago, a message that resonated with Hispanic voters, especially the younger ones. "We are going to take on the greed of the insurance companies and the drug companies and we are going to pass a Medicare for All single-payer program."

The fact is that according to a Pew Research Center poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters last month, Sanders had the edge among Latinos nationally: 30% favored the Vermont Senator, 22% supported Biden, 11% backed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. All the other candidates were in low single digits.

This, of course, is encouraging, but no one should rest on those laurels. Count on Trump to use every dirty trick in the book to disrupt Latino support for Sanders, who has been the favorite in ten polls at the time of writing this column. And do not dismiss the heavily pro-Trump Cuban-American vote in Florida, shameful as it is.

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