In 2016, as Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, and the possibility that he would become president became more apparent, I remember people I knew from the Latino community feeling the same thing: fear.
November came, Trump won, and the attacks against our communities began. Trump separated families at the border, ripped babies away from their mothers and locked children in cages. In Puerto Rico, he stalled necessary aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction. And, he has assaulted working people by undermining the rights of all our families.
Now, just after Super Tuesday, over one third of the delegates in the Democratic primary have been awarded in the race to become the nominee to take on Donald Trump. However the rest of the primary plays out, the winner will be whoever builds the largest coalition of supporters.
Who is the fastest growing community of voters? Which community will have the greatest impact in both in the primary and in key battleground states this November? Us. Latinos.
This year, a record 32 million Latinos are likely to be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. We are the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority ever eligible to vote in a U.S. presidential election. On Super Tuesday, The New York Times released an article calling us “the sleeping giant” that is awakening, and explicitly said “Latino voters are poised to pick the Democratic nominee.”
Think of what that means: we have the power to change our democracy.
But, ultimately, this is not about a single candidate; it's about inspiring a movement, powered by a broad movement, including immigrant rights and labor groups, around the issues that matter most for Latino communities.
Recently, SEIU announced our historic investment in the 2020 election, our largest voter engagement program ever in our 100 years. Our plan is to engage over six million voters, including Black and brown infrequent voters across key battleground states. We aren’t just asking them to vote, we’re asking them to stand with us and fight to elect a president who will make it easier for every working person to join a union, instead of actively working against us.
SEIU is teaming up with partner organizations, both nationally and in key states, to drive this worker-led program that will span over forty states, with a key focus in eight key battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Make no mistake, Latino voters will not only be the deciding factor of this election, but in the future of our democracy.
Just look at the demographics of some of the states that just voted. In California and Texas - two of the most delegate rich states - 30.5% and 30.4% of eligible voters are Latino, respectively. Soon the people of Arizona and Florida will make their voices heard, where 23.6% and 20.5% of eligible voters in those states are Latino. Texas, Arizona, and Florida are all states that Democrats have seen gains in during recent elections, and hope to eventually turn blue.
Latino engagement cannot just be about the primary: Latino Decisions data from Texas shows that Latinos will wait before making the commitment to vote for the nominee if their first choice loses, more than any other demographic group. Even once someone becomes the nominee, they need to continue to activate the Latino base. Our votes will not be taken for granted.
This will be one of the most important elections of our lifetime. We must beat Donald Trump and other politicians up and down the ballot who are working against our communities in this year's general election. And with our collective vote, we will overcome fear by being the deciding factor, not just in this election, but in our future.
2020 is the year of Latino voters.
(The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents about two million workers nationally in healthcare, the public sector and property services.)