Arizona Latinos Projected to Have a Bigger Influence in This Year's Election

A coalition of Latino voter-outreach groups are projecting that Arizona's Latino voters will clearly have more of an influence on this year's election than they have in past years.

People representing the dozen groups in One Arizona are estimating that Latino voters will account for 14 percent of the vote in Arizona, which would be up from 12 percent in 2010, and 9 percent in 2006.

"We knew when we started this process that it wasn't going to happen from one day to another," says Francisco Heredia, the director of One Arizona. "It's about changing a lot of the culture, a lot of the perceptions about government that sometimes our families have, and really engaging [people who aren't registered to vote] in the process -- talking to them at their door, the supermarket, wherever they're at. That type of work takes time to build, and we will continue to build those relationships and work to increase our Latino community's political power."

The fact that there are a lot of the new Latino voters is partially due to the rapid increase in Arizona's Latino population, which has doubled since 1990.

However, every election cycle, there are countless news stories about Latinos generally lagging behind in voter turnout.

The voter-outreach groups that are part of One Arizona have been trying to change that, by working to register young voters, women voters, and low-income voters, and encourage all of them to sign up for the permanent early-voting list.

There are signs their efforts are paying off: Around the time SB 1070 was passed in 2010, there were fewer than 100,000 Latino voters on the early-voting list. There are now more than 300,000 Latino voters on the permanent early-voting list, according to One Arizona's analysis.

One Arizona's analysis suggests that if a election statewide office like governor or attorney general were close -- perhaps less than 40,000 votes -- then Latino voter turnout could be the deciding factor.

And, of course, Arizona Latinos tend to vote Democrat.

John Loredo, the former Arizona House Minority Leader, says the wave of anti-immigrant and anti-Latino laws passed in the state in recent years make it easy for Latinos in Arizona to vote Democrat.

"Who's attacking them is crystal clear," Loredo says. "Who their friends are is crystal clear, who their friends aren't is crystal clear."

It's also possible that the candidacy of David Garcia for state schools superintendent could motivate Latino voters even more, since Garcia, a Democrat, has a very real chance of being elected, which would make him the first Latino to hold statewide office since the '70s.

Below, you can read through One Arizona's report on the state of Arizona's Latino voters:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley