Without the votes of a majority of Latinos, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would not have won the White House. It would have been impossible.
But thanks to the Hispanic vote in key states, Donald Trump will not be president of the United States after January 20 2021.
First, to be clear: The black vote – especially the vote by black women – was essential to the Democratic victory in the recent elections. But Latino voters helped a lot. More than ever.
We will not know the final figures on how many Hispanics voted and which candidates they favored until we get a report by the U.S. Census Bureau next year. But we have an idea. “What we know for sure is that the turnout was absolutely historic,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions and one of the gurus on the Hispanic vote. “I’m estimating 16.5 million” Latino voters. That’s far more that the nearly 13 million who voted in 2016.
As in recent decades, the majority of Latino voters preferred the Democratic Party candidate over the Republican candidate. There are several surveys of the Latino vote in these elections, using different methodologies and margins of error. But all give Biden a wide lead.
Most interesting is what happened in battleground states like Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. “The growth of the Latino vote in those states is larger than the Biden margin of victory,” Matt Barreto told me in an interview. A and that was achieved thanks to the efforts to identify, register and deliver to the polling places Latino voters across the country.
In Arizona, for example, 438,000 Latinos voted for Biden, who defeated Trump by just 10,457 votes. The same thing happened in Pennsylvania, where Biden defeated Trump by 81,479 votes in a state where 200,100 Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate. The story is the same in Georgia and Nevada.
What those numbers tell us is that the large turnout by Latino voters – even in states like Wisconsin – where there’s little talk of the Hispanic vote but yet when 71,400 Latinos voted for Biden – contributed to Trump losing the White House. Again, this would not have been possible without a coalition of voters of all races and ethnic backgrounds. But the Hispanics did their part.
“I think the big lesson is the turnout,” Barreto told me. “We saw the enthusiasm across the board. I was not just Democrats. Republican turnout was also excellent.”
Another guru of the Hispanic vote, Mark Hugo López of the Pew Research Center, told me that “the big lesson is that when we talk about Latino voters, it’s a diverse group.” We are not a monolithic group, and there are even people who refuse to speak about a single Latino community.
Voters in Florida, for example, were bombarded by Republicans with ads that falsely accused Joe Biden and the Democrats of being socialists. That works for some voters whose families fled from countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. But not for Puerto Rican voters in New York, who are more concerned about the political status of Puerto Rico, or for Mexican-Americans on the West Coast and along the southern border who have very specific immigration concerns. And if we add to that the interests of indigenous Maya groups, members of the LGBTQ community and millennials who identify with the term LatinX. We realize that our community is growing more diverse every day.
“Probably we shouldn’t say ‘Latino vote’ but instead Latino voters. So in Arizona or in California we have a different story than in Texas, Florida, Georgia or Pennsylvania,” Mark Hugo López told me. In fact, the diversification of the Latino community is happening at the same time the United States is becoming a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. By 2044 we will all be part of a minority in this country, according to Census Bureau forecasts.
That’s how we Latinos voted in 2020: more than ever, more for Biden, than for Trump, with a lot of different concerns and helping Biden in that states he most needed.
Despite all of President Trump’s conspiracy theories and his refusal to admit defeat, as Barreto told me, “Democracy worked.” The candidate with the most votes wins here, and many of them were Latinos.