The Latino vote, which debuted this year as the largest minority in the U.S. electorate, contributed to President Donald Trump’s key victory in Florida but could give his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, the votes he needs in states where the recount is still underway and, with them, the White House, according to Hispanic experts.
“This election will be decided by the Latino vote,” Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino, a nonprofit organization that encourages voter participation among the Hispanic community, said in a teleconference. “In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, the margins of victory for Biden are those of the Latino vote, and the path to the White House is through the Latino vote.
Not surprisingly, according to Latino Decisions, the leading political opinion analysis firm of the U.S. Hispanic community, nationally Biden received 70% of the Latino vote and Trump got 27%, although the Univision Network lowered that lead to 66% and 31%, respectively.
And it’s not just the big difference in percentage, but also in number of votes, because in the last few years the Hispanic electorate has grown significantly, with a young Latino turning 18 approximately every 30 seconds.
Juliana Cabrales, of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), estimated that the number of Latinos in this election could exceed 15 million, above that organization’s initial estimates, although far from the 32 million that the Pew Center estimated had the option to vote and which made them the second largest group in the electorate, tars the whites.
“Latinos are one of the electoral groups with the highest participation,” he added. “The vote of Latinos between the ages of 18 and 31 has increased by 300% since 2016.
If the percentage of the Latino vote for Biden is confirmed, this 70% would be higher than the 67% that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harvested four years ago, former President Barack Obama in 2008 (68%) and only one point below the 71% that the first African-American U.S. president won in his reelection in 2012, according to data from the Pew Center.
On the other hand, according to Latino Decisions, Trump obtained 27% of the Latino vote this Tuesday, one point less than what he pocketed four years ago and the same percentage that the then-Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, obtained in 2012.
NALEO President Arturo Vargas said in a statement that “while there are many votes to be counted in the presidential election and campaigns across the country, whatever the results, we know that Latinos went out to vote in record numbers.
“The historic participation of young Latinos signals that the next generation of the nation’s second-largest minority and the electorate is committed and involved, and eager to make its voice heard,” he added.
The Democratic Party has been very confident that this mobilization of the Latino vote would help it in the coalition with African American voters, labor unions, women’s organizations, environmental advocates and people with higher education, to defeat Trumpismo, which is mostly white, male and working class.
But he found that, according to early post-voting polls, Trump won a higher proportion of the Latino vote in Miami-Dade County, where Cuban-American voters reign, this year than when he competed for this segment of the electorate with Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
An opinion poll released by CNN television on Tuesday night showed that in Florida, Trump received almost 50% of the Latino vote, compared to 35% in 2016.
In that southern state, Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans are very numerous in the Hispanic population, and susceptible to the “anti-communist” propaganda that Trump’s campaign has deployed.
Also according to CNN, Biden was 12 points below the numbers of Hispanics who voted for Clinton four years ago, which were insufficient to give him the victory in the always decisive state of Florida.
By contrast, in Arizona, where most Latinos are of Mexican or Central American ancestry, Latino Decisions estimated that 71% of these voters favoured Biden and 26% favoured Trump, giving the Democratic candidate a boost toward victory in the Electoral College.
In Arizona, the recount is still going on, and with 86% of the vote counted Biden has a 3.4 point lead and is on track to become the second winning Democrat in the state since 1948, after Bill Clinton did the same in 1996.
In Pennsylvania, where a good number of Puerto Rican voters live, more akin to the Democratic Party, Biden is closing the gap and it cannot be ruled out that he could win 20 electoral votes that would almost give him the final victory.
To try to turn the outcome around, he may find key to the massive support he gained among Latinos, 69% of whom supported him, for 26% of Trump, according to Latino Decisions.
If not, he still has Michigan and Wisconsin, where he is already leading the recount by a slim margin of votes that is less than that of a growing Latino electorate, which also bet on the Democrat for a difference that exceeded 50 points in both cases.