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Health care for all is top political motivator for younger Texas Latinos, study finds

A legal pathway for DACA recipients, racial justice and jobs are the other issues that would get them involved politically, the survey found.
Jovanny De la Cruz (2nd-L), 25, registers to vote on Saturday, September 15, 2018 in Dallas, Texas as he participates in the Inside Out Project, a mobile art program aimed at inspiring young American voters into greater civic engagement.MICHAEL MATHES / AFP - Getty Images

Health care for all is the political issue motivating the largest share of younger Texas Latinos, according to a newly released report.

Jolt Initiative, the political arm of a Texas group that is trying to improve voter participation among young Latinos in the Lone Star State, issued their findings on the study, “We Are Texas.”

They found 29 percent of Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 44 named health care as the top issue to get them involved politically, closely followed by a path to citizenship for immigrants such as DACA recipients (28 percent). Other motivating issues were racial and ethnic equality and justice and more jobs and economic prosperity.

Cristina Tzintzún, Jolt executive director, said that when it comes to issues and agendas, younger Texas Latinos seem more aligned with the Democratic candidates. But the survey found younger Latino voters don’t necessarily yet see Democratic leadership as their solution, she said.

A third said they preferred the Democratic Party, while 13 percent said they preferred Republican. Half were either unsure of what party they preferred (34 percent) or they chose Independent (16 percent).

“This report is a call to action for candidates in this election cycle, where Latinos are an important part of the electorate, to take their (Latinos') issues seriously and to make they are reaching out and talking to Latino voters on issues they care about,” Tzintzún said.

Six of the districts in Texas that Democrats are targeting in their quest to win the House majority have electorates that are at least 10 percent Latino.

Texas ranks 47th among states and the District of Columbia in voter turnout, and groups like Jolt are focusing on registering the state's younger residents.

About a third of eligible Latinos in Texas voted in 2016, compared to 59 percent of non-Latino Texans. About 43 percent of the state's Latinos under the ages 18-29 are registered to vote, the report said. Like the rest of the nation, voting by younger people is lower than other age groups and young Latinos’ turnout is very low. As the report notes, one in two Texans under 18 today is Latino.

When asked what kinds of political positions would stop them from voting for a candidate, fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they would not vote for a candidate who made derogatory comments against Mexicans or Latinos and 29 percent would not vote for a candidate who opposed abortion rights.

The study is the result of nine months of research that included surveys of 1,016 young Latinos and 65 interviews with some of the survey participants.