By Selena Hill – – – –
Although Latinos voted for President Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections in record breaking numbers, a new poll reveals the Democratic Party may not have a strong grip on the voting bloc this time around.
The Latino Vote
A poll released by the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA) last week surveyed a sample of Latino voters across the nation. The group found that Democrats might not have as tight a hold on the Latino primary vote as they’ve had in previous elections. Instead, the results show about one-third of Latinos may not participate in the primary elections at all.
When asked if they will vote in their state’s Democratic or Republican contests, or skip the primary season altogether, 37 percent said they would likely partake in the Democratic primary election, while 34 percent said they would vote in the Republican primary. However, 35 percent said they didn’t plan to vote in their state primary.
Top Issues Among Latinos
The poll, conducted between Feb. 11 and Feb. 15 among likely voters in the 2016 presidential election, also shows immigration reform is not at the top of the group’s concerns. Less than 5 percent of respondents found illegal immigration to be a very important issue in the election.
In comparison, 32 percent said they were concerned about what the candidates planned to do to improve the job rate and economy. Terrorism and national security came up as the second most important issue, with over 13 percent of Latinos responding these issues were crucial. Furthermore, 11 percent found education to be a priority issue, followed by healthcare at 8 percent.
This shows many Latino voters — like most voters in the U.S. — are very concerned with the candidates’ proposals on the economy, unemployment and national security. Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders should take this into account as they continue to fight for the Latino vote in early voting states.
Latinos in Nevada
After losing the Nevada caucus to Clinton on Saturday, the Sanders campaign issued a press release announcing his win with Latino voters. According to entrance polls collected by Edison Research for The Associated Press, the Vermont senator won 53 percent of the Latino vote compared to Clinton, who won 45 percent.
“What we learned today is that Hillary Clinton’s firewall with Latino voters is a myth,” said Arturo Carmona, deputy political director for the Sanders campaign.
However, a Clinton campaign report issued by Latino Decisions dismissed Sanders’ claim of winning the Latino vote.
“We don’t believe that the so-called entry polls were particularly accurate,” Clinton said. “Look at the precincts…Look at where we dominated.”
The Latino Decisions data shows that Clinton won the majority of the 40 precincts in Nevada that have more than 50 percent Latino registrants, in addition to two precincts in Clark County that are over 80 percent Latino.