How Latinos Made History Across The Country During The Midterm Elections

credit: ocasio2018 / catalinacruzny

On Tuesday, millions of Americans cast their ballot making their voices heard at the polling booth in what was one of the most divisive midterms in recent memory. For Latinos, issues like healthcare and education were some of the biggest issues and it showed. Early numbers show that Latinos came out in droves. Barriers were also broken on Tuesday as voters elected Latinos into office at record numbers in historically Republican districts. From the first Democratic Latina being elected governor in the U.S. to the youngest woman elected ever to Congress, Latinos made history across the country.

While the actual numbers of Latino votes won’t be out till all are counted, voter engagement was higher than the 2014 midterms and reached that of a presidential election.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Latino Decisions.

The final numbers from the 2018 election won’t be available for a few months, but absentee and early voting tallies show that Latinos voted in record numbers. There was an almost 120 percent increase in absentee and early ballots cast by Latinos compared with back in 2014.

“The net wave of the Democratic pickup is due entirely to strong support from minority communities who voted for Democrats.” Matt Barreto, a Latino Decisions pollster, said in a conference call. In an election eve survey by Latino Decisions, 73 percent of Latinos said they voted for a Democratic candidate. That could have been a huge reason behind Democrats taking back the House of Representatives by a tally of 222-196.

Latino voters made their voices heard in three key states; Florida, Texas and California. While Latinos couldn’t deliver wins to Democrats Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Andrew Gillum of Florida, they came out to support in huge numbers.

In Texas, Latinos requested 365 percent more early and absentee ballots than in 2014 and Florida saw a 129 percent increase. Those campaign losses were’t due to lack of Latino vote rather due to voter suppression and a higher Republican turnout this year. This shows how powerful the Latino vote can be when engaged and candidates focus on issues that they care about. While Texas and Florida were one of the bigger high profile races, many Latinas succeeded in other races across the country making history along the way.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.

In what was a landmark victory for women and Latinas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Anthony Pappas to become the youngest woman elected to congress at 29 years old. Cortez gained momentum for her progressive politics, including Medicare for all, tuition-free college, and the ending of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She will now be the one of the faces for the progressive side of the Democratic party as young voters have energized the base.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia have become the first Latina women elected to Congress in Texas.

While the state of Texas didn’t elect Beto O’Rourke, they did vote in the first Latinas from Texas to go to congress. Veronica Escobar will represent the 16th congressional district, taking the place of Beto O’Rourke. Sylvia Garcia will represent Texas’ 29th congressional district, which includes Houston and Pasadena.

Eleven of Texas’ 36 seats in the House of Representatives are occupied by Democrats. Of those 11 Democrats, two seats — soon to be four, with the addition of Escobar and Garcia — are occupied by women. Both women ran on platforms that included immigration policy reform and expanding affordable health care.

Michelle Luján Grisham was elected governor of New Mexico becoming the first Democratic Latina governor in the country.

History was made as New Mexico voters elected the first Democratic Latina governor in the U.S. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who made a name for herself as one of President Donald Trumps’s strongest critics on immigration, beat Republican Rep. Steve Pearce. The historic win flips New Mexico from red to blue for the first time since 2002. Grisham will replace Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who also made history when she became the first Latina governor elected in the U.S. back in 2010.

Catalina Cruz becomes first former ‘Dreamer’ elected to New York state Assembly.

Democrat Catalina Cruz will be the first “Dreamer” to hold office in New York. The Colombian-born “Dreamer” was raised in Queens after she came to the U.S. with her mother to escape the country and grew up undocumented.  Cruz will be the third “Dreamer” to serve in an elected office in the country. She plans to focus on affordable housing, immigrant rights and small businesses in her district.

The 2018 midterms showed how powerful the Latino vote could be and is a reminder of what is to come in 2020.

Janet Hernandez, Senior Project Manager at UnidosUS, says that this election showed how important the Latino vote is in key races across the country. “There was extremeness numbers in Texas that saw a 100 percent increase in multiple counties by Latinos and huge jumps in voter registration in Florida,” Hernandez said. “It’s very clear that Latinos rejected Donald Trump’s policy of hate and they elected Latino officials along the way.”

She says that her organization helped register new voters at numbers that matched presidential elections as a little over 81,000 Latino voters registered for the 2018 election. Of the 48,000 Latino voters that registered in Florida by UnidosUS, 52 percent are woman. Hernandez pointed out that 80 percent of Latinas are leading community campaigns in her organization and that was reflected in the midterm results. She says that one of the most encouraging things that came out the midterms was the rise in not only women running for office but Latinas that actually won races.

“We’ve been seeing Latinas elected to office at rates never seen before and that just shows that they’re not waiting for someone to lead them but they’re the ones knocking on doors and breaking barriers,” Hernandez said. “Latinos across the country are making their voices heard and if 2020 is anything like 2018, we expect to see even more Latinos leading the charge.”


READ: Latinos Are Expected To Make A Huge Impact During The 2018 Midterm Elections

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