Latino Voters

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Lisa Magaña, associate professor for the Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies and Ian Danley, director for One Arizona talk about the role of Latino voters in this year’s election cycle.

Jose Cardenas: Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. We'll discuss the impact of Latino voters in elections in Arizona and in the presidential primaries. Plus, an organization that rescues safe and edible fruits and vegetables headed for the landfill each year. And both sides of a bill allowing for loans with interest rates that could reach 204%. Coming up on "Horizonte."

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Jose Cardenas: This week the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held a panel discussion at South Mountain Community College to talk about Latino voters in the election cycle. Here to talk about this is Lisa Magana from the ASU School of Transborder Studies, and Ian Danley, director for "One Arizona." Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." A lot of talk about the Latino vote this year, in particular because it is such a hot issue. Give us a quick overview. Who was there and what the highlights were.

Ian Danley: So the Hispanic Chamber gathered a group of leaders from around the community to talk about Latino voting. The impact of this election, the impact of this Presidential Preference election on Latino voting in particular. And to really gauge where folks are this year.

Jose Cardenas: And Lisa, this comes a little over a week after our own Presidential Preference primaries which in many respects were at least a logistical disaster.

Lisa Magana: Right.

Jose Cardenas: How much did that influence the discussion?

Lisa Magana: Oh, it was definitely part of the discussion. One of the questions that came up is did it have an impact on Latino voter turnout. And we said -- what were the numbers we talked about, Independents that could not participate in this particular, so we know that definitely didn't turn out so well for Latinos that wanted to participate that had registered as Independents.

Jose Cardenas: There were many Latinos in Maricopa County who have registered as Independents?

Lisa Magana: What was the final number we talked about today? Around 400-some thousand.

Ian Danley: 470,000 registered in Arizona today, and about a third of them are Independent.

Lisa Magana: We're still figuring out data here but about a third are registered as Independents. So far.

Jose Cardenas: Was that a surprise?

Lisa Magana: It is kind of surprising. I think it's important because I think what came up in a lot of the talk today was that the Democrats sometimes assume that Latinos are going to vote as Democrats. And this may not be the case, you know, this might be something that's changing.

Jose Cardenas: In this election, given the prominence of immigration issues for at least some people, and the likelihood that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, it's not that absurd an assumption to think that most likely it was a no vote for a Democrat, is it?

Ian Danley: It's not absurd at all. President Obama won over 70% of the Latino vote against a candidate who had said some negative things around deportation and other harsh statements but nothing like what we've heard this year. I think the floor and ceiling of the Latino vote will hit historic numbers easily based on the rhetoric we've heard. We could see 80, 85% of Latinos voting for a Democratic nominee for sure.

Jose Cardenas: I know there was a mix of national and local associations. What did he have to say and what's the outlook nationally?

Lisa Magana: Well, that's fascinating. A couple things, we know as the Republican Party comes off as anti-immigration, and coming off at anti-Latino. We know it's actually galvanizing and mobilizing Latinos. We are seeing record numbers of Latinos that are naturalizing. Typically it's 700,000 a year, estimates are they might reach over a million. The number one reason people want to be U.S. citizens is that they want to vote this guy out of office. They don't like this guy that's talking about anti-immigration. It's galvanized -- we were talking about this earlier -- it's galvanized other Latinos. It's kind of a pan identity issue. You have somebody that's, for example Congressman Gutierrez from Illinois, who came to Illinois through SB 1070, who feel very much connected to the immigration movement because it feels again like it's anti-Latino. Even though Puerto Rico has a very different legacy than obviously Mexican-Americans. It's been really fascinating. I absolutely think it's working to mobilize Latinos.

Jose Cardenas: With that locally, your organization has been getting out the vote.

Ian Danley: So we formed as a coalition in 2010 as a response to Senate Bill 1070, which was really the worst piece of immigration legislation we had seen in a generation, and fundamentally understood that a key ingredient to preventing those kinds of attacks in the future is Latino voting. For the last five years we have knocked on 1.1 million doors, made another 985,000 phone calls, all voter outreach to largely Latino voters, signing them on to the Permanent Early Vote list, the vote by mail program here in Arizona, effective doubling the turnout of those voters. We also remind folks to vote. This voter outreach has had outreach impacts. There's a lot of voter cynicism in Arizona as we talk about this burgeoning populace we want to see activated right away. It's going to take work over time and the work we're doing is really building that momentum. We're seeing know voting, the electorate we have built voter by voter is allowing new kind of candidates and new kind of rhetoric to be viable and allowing these folks to be elected, as well.

Jose Cardenas: What about the state legislature?

Ian Danley: We're going to see changes up and down the board. Right now to get to the White House you need to go through the Latino voters. That is going to be the case in Arizona eventually. You have to go to the Latino vote to get to the governor's office. We're building again voter by voter. We saw folks who manage the campaign, we saw a Latino candidate win Maricopa County, the only Democrat to do so in nearly a decade.

Jose Cardenas: David Garcia.

Ian Danley: David Garcia's race. We did that largely by galvanizing the new electorate we have built in Maricopa County. We need to do that statewide. That's when you're going see the Governor's rate and other offices in the state shift.

Jose Cardenas: This effort is not just about the 2016 election, it needs to be more long term.

Lisa Magana: Well, I think a lot of this movement --

Jose Cardenas: And it's not just about Trump.

Lisa Magana: Absolutely. I think what is interesting is that we're seeing -- and I'll go back to this anti-immigration movement -- it's really mobilizing people. One of the things we also want to think about is Latino politics, yes, voting is very important. But you have people in your community and your organizations that volunteer, people that cannot vote, that help to get people elected. So we have these various different political players here in Arizona that are very meaningful and important when it comes to Latino politics. For example, Team Awesome, which they aren't called that anymore, are they?

Ian Danley: They are called Young Engaged Arizona.

Lisa Magana: You had kids that could not vote but helped get people elected that were progressive when it came to immigration. We talked about that we may not see it completely happening in 2016. I suggest we're really going to see major movement after the 220 census and a couple years after that where redistricting can be done, better able to reflect the changing demographics of the state.

Jose Cardenas: Not just the electorate, but mobilizing the community.

Lisa Magana: People are starting to get politicized. It may be organizing or activism. Later we'll move into voting. All of it is connected, it's all important when it comes to participation in politics.

Jose Cardenas: We do live in interesting times. Thank you both so much for joining us to talk about this.

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Lisa Magaña: Associate Professor for the Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies,
Ian Danley: Director for One Arizona talk about Latino voters

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