By Alejandra Arredondo
Washington, Nov 3 (EFE).- More than 34 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the upcoming US midterm elections, a large minority community with whom Republicans are increasingly gaining ground, a trend that could help decide which party will control Congress.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Latinos are “the fastest-growing racial and ethnic group” since the last midterm elections in 2018 with roughly 34.5 million people in the community qualified to cast a vote.
“Candidates and parties still have not realized the potential,” Yadira Sánchez, executive director at Poder Latinx, tells Efe in an interview.
In some key elections where the contests are close, Latinos represent a significant proportion of voters. In Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado, for instance, they make up 30%, 24%, and 22% of the electorate, respectively.
But while often considered a homogenous group, Latinos are a diverse community who tend to vote based on their heritage, family ties, their geopolitical context and even their faith.
Rodrigo Domínguez-Villegas, director of research at the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), tells Efe that the Latino vote can differ significantly, even within the same state.
That is the case in Florida, where Cuban Americans tend to support the Republican Party, while Puerto Ricans vote mostly Democratic.
In California, meanwhile, Latinos from Mexican and Central American backgrounds vote depending on where they live in the state: those in the San Francisco area tend to be more progressive than those from the more rural Central Valley.
Domínguez-Villegas added that religion is another influential factor: Evangelical people, for example, are more likely to vote Republican.
In the race for the midterms, the Democratic Party — which has traditionally enjoyed more support among Latinos — have focused on social matters, like abortion, instead of the economy, despite it being the most important issues for 80% of the Hispanic voters, according to Pew.
This has opened a window for Republicans, who have used the economy and security as their main tools in their bid to regain control of Congress.
Polls show that the majority of Latino voters are still voting blue, but the margin is narrowing.
In the 2018 elections, Democrats were 40 percentage points ahead of Republicans among Latino voters, but polls now put the gap at 27 points. EFE