Latino voters in four 2020 election battleground states are most concerned about economic and health issues, not immigration policy, according to a UCLA report released Wednesday.
The study published by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative intends to dispel what it says is a common misconception that immigration policy drives Latino voters. The report suggests candidates at the federal, state and local levels should address Latinos’ concerns about economic- and health-related issues if they want to capture the Latino vote.
The study looked at Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Texas battleground states where Latinos are most likely to influence election results. Researchers found that Latinos in those states have lower wages and are less likely to have health insurance, while being more likely to contract COVID-19 than any other racial or ethnic group.
Specifically, compared to white counterparts with the same levels of education doing comparable jobs, Latinos make 2% less in Arizona, 4.8% less in Florida, 1.6% less in Nevada and 5.3% less in Texas, the study reported.
Many Latinos in those states are also working essential jobs during the pandemic, putting them at a high risk of infection, and at the same time, they are more likely to be uninsured than any other demographic group in those four states, according to the study.
Compared to white people, the proportion of uninsured Latinos is 2.4 times higher in Arizona, 1.6 times higher in Florida, 2.3 times higher in Nevada and 2.2 times higher in Texas, the study reported.
“Latinos are essential workers and essential voters, yet they remain overlooked by our nation’s leaders in conversations about health care and the economy,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, research director for UCLA LPPI and a co-author of the report.
“Now more than ever, with Latinos holding the power to determine this election, we must understand the serious economic and health disadvantages faced by Latinos and we must design policies that will address these disadvantages.”
The researchers urged candidates and elected officials to address four issues Latinos most care about:
— Establish a national minimum wage of at least $15 without exclusions for domestic, farm and tipped workers;
— Use affirmative action, financial aid and integrated social welfare programs to increase Latino representation, retention and graduation rates in higher education;
— Establish universal health coverage and make it accessible to all regardless of one’s immigration or employment status;
— Protect workers from COVID-19 by expanding and enforcing workplace health and safety regulations.
“Latinos will be critical in deciding the most consequential election of our lifetime,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of the UCLA LPPI.
“Latinos form the largest non-white segment of the electorate and an outsized share of our frontline workers, so their policy preferences are clear directives to the major parties to center policies on this demographic.”
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