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With 27 million eligible voters, the Latino-American electorate could be the deciding factor in the 2016 US presidential race. But in the eight elections since 1988, only once has Latino turnout exceeded 50 percent. This dynamic has led pollsters to label the Latino constituency a "sleeping giant" that has yet to be awakened.
Republican candidate Donald Trump's vituperative anti-immigrant stance and pledge to build a border wall with Mexico could change that. Polling shows more Latino engagement with this year's campaign than in previous years. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, has maintained a strong lead among Latino voters for several months. Civic engagement groups report record Latino voter registration in key swing states and a large number of Latinos pursuing citizenship in order to be able to cast their ballots.
But several challenges remain. A number of states have implemented voter ID laws and other restrictions that make it harder to vote or even sign up. Nearly half of Latino voters are millennials; at 44 percent, that's a higher share than any other ethnic group of voters. But millennials generally vote at a lower rate than other groups. Democrats may also lose support from Latinos angered over the party's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform when they controlled Congress at the outset of President Barack Obama's first term. And while polling shows the economy, health care, and immigration among the top Latino concerns, a strong segment holds conservative views on social issues like abortion that are more aligned with the Republican stance.
We'll explore the dynamics of the Latino-American vote in the 2016 election.
On today's episode, we speak to:
Marcela Valdes @valdesmarcela
Journalist, Latin American politics and culture
Steven Cruz @StevenCruz
Deputy Digital Director, The Libre Initiative
Pili Tobar @pilitobar87
Communications Director, Latino Victory Project
Maru Mora Villalpando @latinoadvocacy1
Undocumented activist, Latino Advocacy
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