By YADIRA SANCHEZ and VANESSA CARDENAS
Everyone is placing bets on the direction the Latino vote will take this year.
As the second-largest community in the United States and the second fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, what we know for sure is that Latinos are highly concerned about the economy and the impact of the climate crisis. Another fact we can count on is that Democrats have delivered impactful legislation to strengthen the economy and create good-paying jobs, while addressing other important priorities for Latinos, like climate change.
Poll after poll shows that the number one issue on Latinos’ minds is the economy. According to a Washington Post-Ipsos survey of Latino registered voters, 87 percent of Latinos say that rising prices are extremely or very important to their vote, with 74 percent saying the same about the availability of jobs. In a NALEO poll, 48 percent of Latino voters rank inflation and the rising cost of living as top concerns.
Democrats are delivering answers to these concerns. When President Biden took office, unemployment among Latinos was 8.6 percent. It has now decreased to 3.8 percent thanks to the Biden administration.
Recently, with the passing and signage of the Inflation Reduction Law, Democrats in Congress not only addressed Latinos’ economic concerns —like lowering energy costs for working families, while creating good-paying jobs— but also responded to another top priority: climate. This week a new Axios-Ipsos Latino poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo showed that climate change is among Latinos’ leading concerns heading into next week’s midterm elections.
This legislation cuts pollution fueling climate disasters by 40 percent and begins to bring justice to communities on the frontline of climate change. Latinos are receptive, and 83 percent of them have expressed a favorable view of the Inflation Reduction Law.
Our community understands the cause-effect relationship between climate change and the intensity of extreme weather events. Just last month, we saw two hurricanes, which intensified very rapidly due to unusually warm waters, destroy many communities in Puerto Rico and Florida in their path.
This summer we saw heat waves ravage the country, heavily impacting Latinos who disproportionately live in urban heat islands and threatening outdoor workers, mindful of the fact that 75 percent of the nation’s farmworkers are Latino. Heat is historically the leading cause of weather-related death in the country, especially among outdoor and agricultural workers, who are 20 times more likely to die from exposure to heat-related illnesses.
These types of extreme weather events are happening more often and at higher intensities threatening lives and economic welfare.
Latinos want leaders who will work to mitigate climate change while protecting their health, homes, and pocketbooks. This summer, 81 percent of Latino voters reported being concerned about the air and water pollution burdening their families, and at the same time, 74 percent expressed that expanding clean energy production in America would have a positive impact on our economy.
And while political experts, pollsters, and candidates are still debating trends among Latinos, what we know is that Republicans haven’t supported legislation to reduce the cost of living, boost the economy or address the climate crisis. Every Republican opposed the Inflation Reduction Law, which is one reason why Latino voters remain out of reach for the GOP.
Latinos are a decisive voting block in battleground states, like Arizona (31.5 percent of the population), Nevada (28.9 percent), Florida (25.8 percent), Colorado (21.7 percent), Georgia (9.6 percent), and North Carolina (9.5 percent). They know that their vote matters.
At the same time, they know that President Biden and the Democrats are focused on strengthening the working class and are fighting for the well-being of their families.
Latinos are far from a sleeping giant, and they are ready to use their voting power to elect leaders who will prioritize their and their family’s well-being over partisan politics.
Yadira Sanchez is the executive director of Poder Latinx, a national organization focused on economic, immigrant, and climate justice. Twitter: @YadiraSanchezPL
Vanessa Cardenas is a former senior advisor for the Biden campaign. Twitter: @vcardenasDC