A majority of Texas Latinos are concerned about gun violence driven by racism, feel stricter gun laws are necessary and are paying close attention to the 2020 elections, according to a poll released Friday.
The poll, conducted by the polling firms AudienceNet and Latino Decisions on behalf of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords and Latino Victory Project, found 8-in-10 Latinos in the state agree that stricter gun laws are necessary, 81 percent are concerned about gun violence driven by racism and 82 percent hold President Donald Trump at least partly responsible for the increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Latino language.
“That day has changed us. It’s a day that is still very raw for many of us,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said during a call with reporters on Friday about the survey's findings. Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, said that on that day, “El Paso found itself at the horrific intersection of our gun epidemic and this country’s hate epidemic.”
“When I go back to my community after being in Washington,” Escobar said, “I still have people coming to me, whether it’s in the grocery store, whether it’s a park, wherever I am, I still have ‘El Pasoans’ coming to me and embracing me and weeping into my arms. I still have that happen,” Escobar said as she noticeably began to cry.
Fifty-nine percent of those polled said mass shootings and strengthening gun laws are critical to how they will vote next year.
The online poll of over 1,022 self-reported registered Latino voters found big interest in the 2020 elections; 88 percent said they will vote next year. Around 52 percent said they feel much more motivated to vote in 2020 than in 2016.
As far as representation, 6-in-10 Texan Latinos feel there are not enough Hispanics representing them, and only 17 percent said politicians care about their views.
Other top issues for voters are health care (50 percent), gun violence (40 percent), immigration (38 percent), education (28 percent), and racism/anti-immigration attitudes (27 percent).
Texas has seen a large increase in its Latino electorate. Matt Barreto, principal at Latino Decisions, said during the call with reporters that the number of Latino voters almost doubled in Texas from 2014 to 2018, increasing by 826,000, according to an analysis of recent U.S. Census Bureau data.
“There was a 76 percent increase in the Latino voting population who were turning out to vote,” Barreto said.
But there are also an estimated 2.7 million Latino adult citizens in Texas who are eligible to vote but have not yet registered.
“Events such as these in El Paso, as well as the momentum and enthusiasm coming off the 2018 midterm elections," Barreto said, "suggest that these numbers are shrinking and more and more Latinos are registering to vote."