Better hombres – Latino men are a bright spot in Donald Trump’s faltering campaign | United States

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US Election 2020: Could the Latino vote flip Republican states to Biden? | US News

If there is one American community that you might think has more reason than most to be wary of Donald Trump, it is the millions of Latinos across the country.

Yet the man who once labelled Mexicans as “rapists and criminals” and vilified migrants before and after the last election does maintain some support in the Latino community.

And the president has been making an aggressive last-minute push for the Latino vote ahead of 3 November. It is a slice of the electorate that could prove decisive.

Voters in the Latino community are, of course, as diverse in their political views as any group in America. And whether it is the Cuban-Americans of Florida or the Mexican-Americans in the southwest, Mr Trump is just as polarising as for the rest of the country.

How important is the Latino vote?

Pollster Joshua Ulibarr says the Biden campaign is chasing that Latino vote

This will be the first US election in which Latino voters make up the largest minority group.

The shifting demographics in America have been a growing feature of recent elections with the move towards a “majority minority” face of the nation.

The country is changing, especially in states like California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada and Mr Trump’s anti-immigration policies and the perception he is focused more on his white, working-class base has energised the minority vote.

“Latinos have become more active and more energised,” said pollster Joshua Ulibarri, “and with a shifting white vote, that is the winning coalition that Democrats are chasing”.

Which are the states to watch?

Caitlin Montoya
Caitlin Montoya says people in the US have more reason than ever to vote in this election

In the state of Arizona, one in five voters this time will be Latino. Mr Trump beat Hillary Clinton by four percentage points in 2016 but the polls this time show him behind Joe Biden and Latino interest in the election is surging, particularly among young voters in the urban centres like Phoenix.

“I think a lot of people have more reason to come to the polls this time,” said Caitlin Montoya.

She said “unseen Democrats” are especially engaged, “because they see how much chaos there’s been these past four years and they want a competent president”.

Tania Lopez believes voters have become tired of the divisive nature of US politics

The strong connections to Mexico within the community in Arizona made Mr Trump’s comments about the country especially distasteful.

“I was bummed out when he won in 2016 and I think people have just got more tired the more he opens his mouth,” said Tania Lopez.

Her work colleague Phanessa Salazar agreed. “He’s said so many harsh things to so many different minority people, not just Latinos, he just in general has a foul mouth and that’s something we don’t need representing our country.”

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But there is a familiar divide within the Latino community in Phoenix. “There’s a lot of conservative Hispanics, it is prominent in the catholic culture,” said Montoya.

“But hopefully people can see past that and care more about their rights, their people’s rights and their family’s rights.”

Who are Trump’s Latino supporters?

You don’t have to look far to find the very vocal and engaged “Latinos for Trump” at his events.

It is often reported that as many as 30% of Latino Americans support Donald Trump and the popular view is that the majority of those are men.

“Trump’s appeal is a big puzzle to figure out,” said Mr Ulibarri. “The group Trump most appeals to is Hispanic men, college graduate Hispanic men and younger Hispanic men.”

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He said Mr Trump’s projection of himself as a strong leader focused on the economy and job creation is especially successful.

“Latino men have to be the providers, we have to be the ones earning the wages, bringing in the money, so Trump’s appeal, better, stronger jobs, has worked on these men in the past,” he added.

Add to that Mr Trump’s tough rhetoric on places like Cuba and Venezuela, this too has proved popular in Latino communities linked to those countries.

The Trump campaign’s attempt to reach young men might be falling flat though. At the Tres Leches coffee shop, Emmanuel Lupercio said: “It just shows he’s desperate. It hasn’t worked.”

But Democrats are nervous and they have been accused of taking the Latino vote for granted in recent years and neglecting that economic conversation with the community.

Emmanuel Lupercio
Emmanuel Lupercio thinks the Trump campaign’s attempts to win over Latino men has failed

So, could Trump win the Latino vote?

No. And the president knows it.

In 2016 just one in five Latinos voted for him. But his campaign’s push for Latino votes is strategic.

“The president is not trying to win the majority of Latino voters,” said Mr Ulibarri. “All he has to do is win enough of the Latino vote to make it impossible for Democrats to put that winning coalition together.”

Carmen Zamora
Carmen Zamora hopes young Latinos go out and vote

Mr Biden will win votes in the Latino community and amongst Latino men in particular but he needs to win with percentages in the 60s to flip states like Arizona, Florida, Texas and Georgia from red to blue. The question is: will he reach those numbers?

Young voters in Arizona are worried that other generations will be too willing to accept the status quo.

Carmen Zamora runs the Casa de Lola plant nursery and will vote for the first time this year.

She said: “I see my parents and they’re not doing the research, they’re not getting involved. We need the community to vote.

“There is a lot of tradition and religion that goes hand in hand. I hope our voice as a minority gets heard and I hope the younger generation go and vote so that we can see change happen.”

Judith Esqueda
Judith Esqueda fears people won’t turn out and vote again because of apathy

At the counter of Tres Leches, Judith Esqueda offered her bleak assessment: “I’m sad about the election. I don’t think most people are going to vote.

“Last election there was a lot of talk about voting, when it was ridiculous who was running for president, but nobody voted ‘contra’, nobody tried to go against him.

“I’m not sure if they will this time. So, there’s a dread.”

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Why the Democrats’ Latino Wave Never Quite Materializes

Without question, the U.S. is undergoing a political realignment. This year, Latino eligible voters are expected to outnumber Black eligible voters for the first time. Sun Belt states with large populations of Latinos are taking on even greater electoral importance. Yet the political consequences are unpredictable. The dramatic Latinization of America is stirring fears among white voters without college degrees, who feel they are being replaced both socially and economically. This white anxiety is the essence of Trumpism, a pernicious form of identity politics. Meanwhile, voters who have emigrated from, or trace their roots to, places across the large expanse of Latin America may have little but the Spanish language in common, if even that.

Mexican Americans make up the largest segment of the Latino voting bloc, and they are the most reliably anti-Republican. Over decades, the southwestern U.S. has become a multicultural mix of younger, more college educated, and more ethnically diverse residents—all trends that bode well for Democrats. This is in large part why states that were once securely red, including Arizona and perhaps even Texas, are coming into play for Democrats.

Curiously, one segment of the Mexican American electorate is showing a growing alignment with Trump: According to polling by Equis Research, U.S.-born Mexican American men without college degrees are inching toward Trump, mirroring the voting trajectory that non-college-educated white men have followed. They may be following the traditional pattern of assimilation, in which an immigrant group’s voting behavior becomes less distinct over the course of generations. Still, two caveats apply. First, support among these men for Trump remains relatively soft; second, Mexican American women are running in the opposite direction, toward Biden.

Trump received 28 percent of Latino support nationwide in 2016. For all of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, that number sits squarely within the 21 to 44 percent support range of Republican presidential candidates over the past 25 years. This year, Trump’s camp is looking to run up the score in Florida, the most populous swing state.

Latinos there are more polarized than in the rest of the country and compose an estimated 20 percent of the state’s electorate. One-third of Florida’s Latino electorate is of Cuban descent; another third is Puerto Rican. Antipathy to Communist Cuba still runs strong among the former; the latter are more attuned to the economic and humanitarian catastrophe that Puerto Rico suffered during Hurricane Maria. More so than Biden, the Trump campaign has figured out that Latinos in Florida can no longer be addressed as a single voting bloc. The president cannot win Florida without the support of Cuban Americans, and his Spanish-language ads accusing Biden of giving in to socialism could well motivate those voters. Democratic strategists tend to roll their eyes at such claims, but Biden cannot afford to leave the charge unanswered.

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Abortion and immigration driving Florida Latino voters to the polls

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, Latino and evangelical voters in Florida are finding themselves pulled to the polls by issues related to the regulation of abortion and illegal immigration.

Residents have reportedly been torn between backing certain immigration policies that embrace identity politics and social justice versus elements of the pro-life movement, religious freedom and Christianity that are being championed by President Trump, The Tampa Bay Times.

“It is our duty and job to defend the ethical and moral values that guide us,” Puerto Rican evangelical Pastor Angel Marcial said. “And that must be done by voting.”

Marcial, 30, leads a congregation of parishioners at the evangelical Vertical Church in Largo. He also serves as the youth director for the Southeastern Hispanic Region of the Tennessee-based Church of God and said he’s been working with Latinos who believe a wedge is being driven between them and traditional evangelicals.

He explained how important it is for both sides to see each other’s issues and recognize them, even if it may break from traditional norms.


“That does not mean we do not think about our immigrant brothers who are suffering,” the pastor added.

Given Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and her strong faith in Catholicism and the pro-life movement, Christian Latino voters have found abortion has become central to their decision.

However, other pockets of voters have expressed fear about Trump’s policies with regard to the enforcement of federal immigration laws, which some fear could result in mass deportations.

Other pastors have taken a more apolitical approach in the hope that parishioners and voters will make up their own minds and decide for themselves.

Josué Carbajal, 34, is a Mexican-born pastor of the Living Grace Church in Plant City, who told The Times he encourages his flock to educate themselves with facts while using truth and prayer as their main guide.


“I do not suggest candidates or parties,” he said. “There are Christian and biblical foundations to consider, but in the end, the decision is up to the individual and no one else.”

“I am analyzing everything because it is a difficult and contradictory choice,” Carbajal added. “There are immigration issues that concern us, but on the other hand, there are things that we cannot stop listening to, such as abortion and the decision between life and death.”

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Who is holding Latino Americans back in protests against police violence?

As the US sees mass protests against police violence, the voice of a significant portion of victims — Latino Americans — has been missing.

A Black Lives Matter rally (Image: Supplied)

Sean Monterrosa, a Latino, was fatally shot by Vallejo police, California’s San Francisco Bay Area within days of the killing of African American George Floyd on May 25.  Monterrosa was shot five times by a cop who, apparently, mistook a hammer on Monterrosa’s waistband for a gun. 

Today, George Floyd’s funeral took place in his hometown of Houston. Houston is also the hometown of Latino Vietnam war veteran José Campos Torres who, on May 5, 1977, was beaten to death by a group of police officers. Campos Torres was 23.

The police killing of black people in the US has attracted well-justified global attention and condemnation — and Black Lives Matter has become a formidable statement. This can’t be said about US police killing of Latinos and Latinas. And while the words “Brown Lives Matter” have been uttered here and there, they haven’t gained much traction.

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