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By Renee Morad

With 32 million Latinos eligible to vote in 2020, this rapidly growing population could very well be the X factor in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, said Stephanie Valencia, co-founder of Equis Labs, an organization that works to elevate the Latinx electorate and promote political inclusion among Latinos. Valencia believes that Latina women, in particular, largely drive household decisions and could have a great impact when they turn up to the polls.

Know Your Value’s Daniela Pierre-Bravo recently spoke with Valencia to learn more about Equis Lab’s groundbreaking new study about the Latinx electorate and to hear why she believes the future is decidedly Latina.

The group recently surveyed 8,100 Latino registered voters in 11 states to understand who they are and what issues they truly care about. The data revealed striking gender gaps in political approval ratings, suggesting that Latina women are more progressive than their male counterparts.

“The gender gap in the Latino community is two to three times larger than in the white or African-American communities, by comparison,” Valencia said. “I think it’s because women are the heads of their households, they’re the ones paying the bills, they’re feeding their families, they’re trying to ensure their families have affordable healthcare, and so they’re looking at the issues around the upcoming election and previous elections with that mindset.”

“The future is Latina in my view, and I think the study really proves that Latinas are really driving a good part of progressive change,” Valencia added.

Key issues for Latinas include affordable, quality healthcare, immigration and the economy. Access to good jobs that could help them work just one job and have time to spend with their families were also of great importance to survey respondents.

The study highlights ways to communicate with the younger demographic of Latino voters, for which the median age is 28. Outlets such as the media and online could be great pathways to engage with them, Valencia said.

“2020 is going to be a game of margins, a game of inches, just like 2016 was,” Valencia said, explaining that Latinas could prove to have a big impact if they turn up to the polls in large numbers and vote for the issues they care most about.

“We are the X factor in this upcoming election,” Valencia said. “We cannot be suppressed and scared into not participating in this upcoming election. We have to make our voices heard on behalf of those who can’t participate.”

“Find a candidate you believe in where your issues align. People need volunteers,” Valencia encouraged. “If you feel so motivated to participate, make sure that you’re taking your friends and family to vote as well.”

“We cannot let apathy or lack of information be a reason that we do not participate,” Valencia said.