The actions of Latinx voters are almost constantly analyzed in partisan ways by pundits, politicians and the media, and the 2022 midterm election was no different. This commentary, which often tries to make a monolith of the Latinx community, is not new, and electorate predictions of Latinx voters are often over generalized and over simplified.
At GLAAD we used this election cycle as an opportunity to listen, to have conversations with various Latinx organizations throughout the campaign cycle as well as encouraged voting.
The organization’s civic engagement opened space for GLAAD to look into common misconceptions about the Latinx voting bloc such as voting for politicians that are against broadening democracy and abortion access.
Latinx youth, like LGBTQ voters, voted for candidates promising access to abortion, healthcare, and progress in the economy. All three of these issues were among top concerns for Latinx voters in an October report from Pew Research, and they’re top concerns for LGBTQ voters too. The overturn of Roe v. Wade, and at least 25 anti-trans healthcare bills introduced in 2022, threaten the lives of people across sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity.
Chuck Rocha, political strategist for Democrats, has been quoted in countless articles calling out the blatant ignorance polls held in predicting the Latinx voting outcomes throughout the country. Even though he breaks down the details of voting patterns in a partisan way in number of states, he condemns the initial framing of the Latinx voting bloc as an entity of the predicted “red wave”.
“Well, the one thing I can tell you immediately is that this trope about Latinos all running to the Republican Party is just false. And the headline on every paper on Wednesday morning should have said Latino voters saved the Democratic Party,” said Rocha to NPR‘s Elissa Nadworny Nov. 10.
Pundits often distort or erase, the power of Latinx, Black and LGBTQ communities and fail to look at voters through an intersectional lens.
With Georgia’s runoff today, Tues., Dec. 6, it’s important to analyze and correct what we know about Latinx exit polls so far.
After election day the country learned that youth under 30 voted by enormous margins than those predicted. Exit polls showed that 27% of 18 to 29 year olds voted, and 31% showed up for high stake Senate races defying previous polling predictions. This voter turnout was the second highest turnout in the last 30 years, according to NBC News.
From ages 18-29, 89% of Black youth voted almost 20 percent higher than 68% of Latinx youth voters and almost 30% higher than 58% of white youth voters. Self-identified LGBTQ voters came out in record numbers by making up 7% of the midterm electorate, according to The Advocate.
These figures may show history in the making of the youth participation in US democracy, but they’re not the be all, end all. Exit polls are far more nuanced than what is seen in the media and LGBTQ Latinx voters are frequently ignored.
Geraldo Cadava speaks to this in a New Yorker article.
“Today, most professionals have settled on the idea that exit polls aren’t definitive, and the only way to really know how Latinos voted is to wait for precinct-level results, which take time to analyze,” said Cadava.
Legislators work hard to claim the Latinx vote, and at the same time, suppress it too. In the past year, 19 states enacted 34 restrictive voting laws directly affecting Latinx populations, and more restrictions are expected in a 2022 year assessment, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Monica Trasandes, GLAAD’s director of programs, Spanish-language and Latinx media, says that she wants to see fairer representation of Latinx voters in the media.
“Latinx voters, very much including younger voters, are making such a difference in elections and working hard to make sure their communities are seen and heard. They often face barriers to asserting their voting power, and it’s so important that they see their needs and hopes represented accurately in media coverage of elections. We know that there is more to come from the midterms in Georgia, and we know right now that the voting youth who showed up made history in this election,” Trasandes said. “When we ensure democracy is accessible to everyone, we encourage a brighter future for LGBTQ and Latinx equality, while holding our elected officials accountable for the sake of our families, our economy, our healthcare, our reproductive autonomy and our freedom.”
Approximately 62 million of the electorate were, what the Human Rights Campaign is calling, “Equality Voters”. These are voters that tend to be younger and more racially diverse than the entire electorate, for which those voters made up 38% of the nation’s electorate, according to an HRC poll. The polling details that voters don’t want to see medieval anti-LGBTQ laws and that they support equality candidates.
Some of GLAAD’s partners released statements declaring the midterms a victory for access and equality thanks to the strength of the Latinx vote.
Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino—a Latinx civic engagement organization—emphasized the power of the Latino vote in a statement.
“These results wouldn’t have been possible with Latino voters in general—and Latino youth in particular,” Kumar said in the statement. “As we head into 2024, we’ve got to recognize that robust, sustained Latino engagement will be part of any successful election strategy.”
Other Latinx civic engagement organizations like Mi Familia Vota, Mijente and PoderLatinx galvanized action, civic engagement and voter information campaigns throughout Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, and California.
The message to politicians is to step up their messaging with action by showing up for Latinx and ally communities, said Héctor E. Sánchez Barba, the CEO and executive director of Mi Familia Vota.
“Mi Familia Vota is committed to building Latino political power. Texas is becoming more Latino, and our economy is getting stronger because of Latinos; Latinos are working, and we deserve better. We deserve better state leaders and policies.” said Barba on the organization’s website.
There will be more to come as voters from all over the US await the final results of Georgia’s runoff election. See you at the polls!