The Myth of the Latinx Vote

CNN has called it ‘a Sleeping Giant’. 
The LA Times has described its growth as ‘explosive.’

The Pew Research Center reports that voters of this election cycle are the most ethnically diverse in US history and that Latinxs are on track to pass Black people as the largest minority in the United States (or at least largest voting minority — thanks, disenfranchisement), in the next few years. Even now, Latinxs already make up more than 11% of the eligible voting population in the United States, but some estimates say latinxs could be as much as 25% of the US by 2050.

Importantly however, the latinx community isn’t evenly distributed across the country.

Known, among other things, for their density of latinxs (and their relatively recent entrance into the Union), Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California hold the majority of the latinxs in the country.

Outside of South Florida, there are not many counties east of the Mississippi River reporting their population as more than 16% latinx. Most latinx west of the Mississippi river are Mexican.

So you’re probably wondering by now, what is the myth of the latinx vote? In fact, the myth is that the Latinx Vote itself. That it is one vote; that all latinx people will vote the same way. At most what I’ve done thus far is show that in the West, latinxs are a force to be reckoned with — especially considering California is worth more electoral votes than any other state in the country, and almost as many as the next two largest states combined.

The myth is that the Latinx Vote itself. That it is one vote; that all latinx people will vote the same way.

On a racial, ethnolinguistic level, the Latinxs in Florida are equivalent to those in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. They all have similar cultural and linguistic ties to Spain; many still retain the Spanish language as their native language. But I argue that due to most latinx being Cuban or Puerto Rican rather than Mexican as is the case in the West, the (remaining) latinx vote is most likely to align with Mexican voting rather than Cuban or Puerto Rican voting.

Though Bernie’s policies might align more with Cuban-American’s than they realize… the label itself seems to make them rebuff him.

As for why I think Bernie might be doing better among Mexicans and other Latin Americans rather than Cubans/caribbeans — I’m sure Fidel Castro is no small part in their fear to embrace Bernie. For Cubans, Cuban-Americans, and their fellow latinxs in south Florida, Socialism — Democratic or not — evokes too many painful memories of the legacy that Castro and his family have left on the island nation. Though Bernie’s policies might align more with theirs than they realize — it was after all Castro’s social welfare policies that got him the popular support — the label itself seems to make them rebuff him.

What does this mean for… the rest of the race? Considering 2,383 delegates are needed to win the nomination, and 548 are up for grabs in California alone… this means the race has just begun.

Latinxs from other parts of Latin America are not having this same reaction and as evidence by Bernie’s narrow win of the latinx vote in Nevada and outright victory in Colorado. What does this mean for the remaining states, and the rest of the democratic race? Considering 2,383 delegates are needed to win the nomination, and 548 are up for grabs in California alone, I know I’m not alone when I conclude that this means the race has just begun.

thnx @NewYorkTimes
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