Economy and health care – not immigration – will drive Latino vote in 2020

In the four battleground states where Latino voters are most likely to influence 2020 election results — Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Texas — Latinos have lower wages, are less likely to have health insurance, and have a higher likelihood of contracting COVID-19 than other racial or ethnic groups.

That finding, from a report published today by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, goes a long way toward explaining why Latino registered voters say the economy, health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, and racial and ethnic inequality are the top issues in the 2020 election, in a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The report is intended to dispel a common misconception that immigration policy is a top-of-mind issue for Latino voters, and it suggests that candidates for federal, state and local offices who want to capture the Latino vote should talk about how they will address Latinos’ concerns about economic and health issues.

In the four battleground states, Latinos make up a larger share of workers than any other ethnic group earning less than $15 an hour. Latinos also receive significantly lower pay than white counterparts doing similar work: Latino workers earn 2.0% less in Arizona, 4.8% less in Florida, 1.6% less in Nevada and 5.3% in Texas than white workers in comparable jobs and with the same level of education.

Many Latinos have continued to work in essential jobs during the pandemic, putting them at a high risk for infection. As a result, Latinos have higher rates of COVID-19 than other racial groups. They also are more likely to be uninsured than any other demographic group in the four states. Compared to whites, 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.

“Latino voters care about issues other than immigration reform,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, research director for the policy and politics initiative and a co-author of the report.

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