A large percentage of Texas Latinos don’t know what political party to align themselves with and are cynical about the voting process, according to a new report.
Jolt’s executive director, Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, said it found some big misconceptions about this voting bloc.
For one, she said, the idea that Latino voters care about a wide range issues that are mostly liberal or progressive – including legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, protecting the environment and eliminating student debt.
“But far and above the number one issue that Latino voters cared about in the state was health care for all,” Tzintzun said.
Immigration came in a close second, the survey found.
But even though many Latinos agree on progressive or left-leaning issues like universal health care, that doesn’t mean Latinos find themselves closely aligning with Democrats.
“We heard time and again from respondents that they didn’t feel that they knew well enough the difference between Republicans and Democrats,” Tzintzun said.
Thirty-four percent of survey respondents said they didn’t know if they were Democrats or Republicans.
The Democratic Party, however, was preferred by 32 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, 13 percent preferred the Republican Party, and 16 percent identified as independent.
Tzintzun said she thinks more Latinos are unaffiliated because campaigns don’t often talk directly to them. She said that may partially explain why half of the people surveyed were cynical about voting.
“The very disappointing fact is that most of them will never be contacted by a campaign or candidate – even during key elections,” she said.
Tzintzun said philanthropic organizations and major parties need to do a better job of reaching out to Latino voters because Latinos are feeling left out.
According to the study, “50 percent of respondents were cynical about voting, answering that they did not trust politicians, did not think voting made a difference, or did not think ‘people like me have a say.’”
Over a third of Texas Latinos in the study also said they did not feel "educated enough" to make good decisions and thought voting was too complicated.
The survey found that Latinas were more likely than men to be registered and to vote, especially among the younger generation. Among Latinos ages 18 to 24, just 27 percent of men were registered compared to more than half (52 percent) of women.