For Latino Voters, This Election Is All About “La Corona”
By Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer, NALEO and NALEO Educational Fund
As early voting numbers roll in from across the country, it is becoming evident that voters are showing up in far higher numbers than they did four years ago, and Latinos are helping to drive this turnout. Unfortunately, the catalyst behind this record Latino turnout is quite literally a matter of life and death: COVID-19 or la corona. How candidates up and down the ballot address this public health crisis which has disproportionately devastated Latino families will affect how and for whom Latinos cast our votes.
In the nine weeks leading up to Election Day, NALEO Educational Fund and Latino Decisions have conducted weekly surveys of 400 Latino registered voters on election-related issues ranging from likelihood to vote, candidate preference, and priority issues, to current developments, including the Presidential debates and the controversy over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
Amid all the data, two themes have emerged that set this election apart from previous cycles: Latinos are voting, as 34 percent have already voted as of 10/27, and an additional 61 percent say they are almost certain or very likely to vote. The second theme is the issue they care about most, COVID-19, with half of Latino voters saying in our most recent survey that it is their top priority when considering how to vote.
The ubiquitous nature of COVID has completely overshadowed the next most popular concerns, including lowering healthcare costs, improving wages and creating jobs, immigration reform and protecting immigrant rights, and addressing racism and discrimination against Latinos and immigrants.
Given the disproportionate impact that infection, hospitalization, and mortality rates have had on Latinos, and the economic devastation wrought on Latino communities, that COVID-19 remains ingrained in the minds of Latino voters is not a surprise.
Our data reveal a sobering, somber reality. Latinos are a major driving force of the economy, many holding positions as frontline workers in the health, service, and food production industries, and survey results show they have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact.
Nearly a third of our survey participants know someone who has died of COVID-19. More than one in ten report having been ill with the virus at some point, and roughly 40 percent report some level of economic hardship caused by the pandemic. In the Week 6 (October 13) results of our tracking poll, 44 percent of respondents reported dipping into savings or retirement funds to pay for everyday expenses, up from 36 percent in Week 1 (September 8) of our tracking poll.
Unsurprisingly, our survey shows that a vast majority of Latino registered voters are closely following the political campaigns of President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden, assessing each on a variety of factors but giving the most weight to concerns around healthcare and COVID-19.
With all of this taken into consideration, 68 percent of Latinos surveyed indicate they will vote for, or are leaning towards, Vice President Biden, while 25 percent indicate support on some level for President Trump, with the additional eight percent still undecided. In battleground states with large Latino populations, like Arizona, Florida, and Texas, eight percent could tip the electoral scales.
Voting has begun and Latinos are expressing their opinions in record numbers. Regardless of who wins the election, Latinos will want a President who can turn this public health crisis around. The 2020 election has been dubbed by pundits and partisans as “the most consequential in modern history”. For America’s Latinos who are feeling the health and economic effects of COVID-19, this election is nothing less.