Originally published by The New York Times
LOS ANGELES — Latino voters are poised to pick the Democratic nominee.
Long overlooked by the political establishment and dismissed as a sleeping giant of a demographic that didn’t vote as reliably as it could, millions of Latinos are expected to go to the polls on Tuesday in key states like Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and, most significantly, in Texas and California.
One analysis estimates that roughly one-third of the 643 delegates up for grabs in those two states will be determined by Latino voters.
Latinos are expected to make up the largest nonwhite ethnic voting bloc in 2020. Around the country, Latino Democrats are seeking the candidate who is best poised to take on President Trump, who many believe has placed a target on their own backs with his anti-immigrant rhetoric. These voters, far from a monolith but united on some key issues, will cast their ballots in Texas exactly seven months after the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern American history took place in El Paso.
“It’s hard to be Latino right now,” said Christian Arana, the policy director for the Latino Community Foundation, a philanthropic group based in California. “There are so many of us who feel we have to constantly be on the watch for something terrible. People are channeling their anger into voting in a way we have not seen historically.”
Polls have consistently shown that Latino voters in Texas and California list health care, economic inequality and immigration as their top issues. But the upcoming primaries are likely to show the splits and contradictions among the group. Interviews with dozens of Latino voters in El Paso and Los Angeles in recent days show that though Senator Bernie Sanders has built up a loyal base among Latinos, particularly younger and working-class voters, there are many lifelong Democrats who are still searching for a moderate alternative.
“It’s a historic moment and a historic disappointment because yet again we are the most underinvested community from the establishment and the big donors and yet still in every election, the Latino voting segment keeps growing,” said Héctor Sánchez Barba, the executive director of Mi Familia Vota, which does Latino voter outreach throughout the country. In 2018, Latino voters helped flip several Congressional districts to the Democrats.
Now, he said, is the time Latino groups are pressing to get more promises from candidates on what they will do on health care, education and immigration.
Democratic candidates have made more of an effort in recent weeks to court Latino voters, recognizing the decisive role they could play on Super Tuesday. No other candidate has put more effort into courting Latinos than Mr. Sanders, who has made it clear that he is counting on Latinos as a kind of firewall on Tuesday, nationally and particularly in California. So far, recent surveys seem to reflect that effort: Mr. Sanders has a significant lead among Latino voters in both Texas and California, ahead of his rivals by double digits.