Could Latinos one day be seen as white?
Seldom has it been so much for Latinos in the US as in these presidential elections. To see you as the Democratic election worker is a mistake. The growing influence of evangelicals plays a role.
For the journalist Jorge Ramos it is certain that the "sleeping giant" will wake up in these US elections. "Nobody wins the White House without the votes of the Latinos," says the most famous face on the Spanish-language TV channel Univision. Ramos achieved global prominence when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had him removed from a press conference in Iowa for daring to ask about his immigration plans.
The reason for the growing influence of Latinos is obvious. With twelve percent of the electorate, they are the largest minority in the United States in the November elections. In Nevada, you make up a third of the electorate in the Democratic primaries over the weekend. At the same time, they are the fastest growing and, at an average of 27 years, the youngest population group.
32 million Hispanics are eligible to vote
Ramos is less sure to what extent the candidates benefit from the votes of the Latinos. Because Hispanic voters are not a closed bloc. The main thing they had in common so far was that they did not take part in elections. It is difficult for both Republicans and Democrats to mobilize. When it comes to the so-called participation rate, Hispanics are in last place. In the 2016 presidential election, more than half of the 27 million Latinos eligible to vote stayed at home.
Many felt discriminated against by Trump's remarks about "criminal" refugees from Central America; but Hillary Clinton didn't inspire her either, Ramos explains the apathy for choice. According to the polling institute Pew, 32 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote this year; as many as never before and for the first time more than the 30 million African Americans.
Catholicism is declining
Whether they are Republican or Democratic depends on many factors. The question is not whether the Democrats can score points with the Hispanics, according to pollster Fernand Amandi. It is about "why they don't win 80 to 20 or 90 to 10 percent like in the black electorate".
This also has to do with the religious beliefs of the Latinos. As their weight in the US Catholic Church increases, Catholicism within the population is decreasing. According to Pew surveys, the proportion of Catholics among US Latinos fell to 47 percent, or below half of the Hispanic population.
Politically more active
In contrast, the proportion of non-religious and evangelical Latinos is growing continuously. Around a quarter are Protestant today; many of them belong to evangelical churches. These are more politically active - with a penchant for Republican candidates.
"We are pro-life! We want a holistic agenda - as evangelicals and Hispanics," explains President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Gabriel Salguero, why there are plenty of Trump voters among evangelical Latinos. Despite Trump's rigid refugee policy towards people from Central America, many Hispanics are more interested in education, secure jobs and health insurance.
Support for the construction of Trump's wall
Every fifth Latino supports Trump's building of the wall; a quarter even believe that the country is accepting too many immigrants. For this reason alone, Latinos are not necessarily "natural" Democratic voters. This is also proven by their voting behavior in the sunny state of Florida. In the state with 20 percent of the voting Latinos, Cuban immigrants predominate. In 2016, they voted for Trump twice as often as non-Cuban Hispanics. This is what distinguishes Florida from the more democratically-minded Latino voters in New York or California.
Political scientist Melissa Michelson points out that there has always been a strong Republican following among Latinos. They are conservative, anti-communist and less interested in immigration and racism issues. George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan already benefited from it.
It will not be enough for the Democrats to exchange a few words of Spanish with Latinos on the street during the election campaign and to post a photo while eating a taco on Instagram, predicts the journalist Ramos. You need to explain "how Hispanics are becoming a real part of America's social experiment".
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