Democratic Party relies on Latino vote to win Arizona in the presidential election

The Latino vote could swing the state blue for the first time since 1996

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently said Latinos don't "get out and vote," even though Pew Research Center data shows 69 percent of Latinos have indicated they are going to vote this year.

In Arizona, Latinos make up the largest minority group in the state — 21.5 percent of eligible voters. There are 992,000 Latinos eligible voters in Arizona — the fifth largest Latino statewide eligible voter population nationally.

Arizona has traditionally been known as a Republican-dominated state, but with an increased number of new voters this may change.

Cristina Arzaga-Williams is the chief of staff for District 5 Supervisor Steve Gallardo. She explained the importance of the Latino vote and how a few thousand votes may dictate the outcome of the upcoming election.

"This office has advocated the importance of the Latino vote, and Supervisor Gallardo has fought hard to represent the Latino community and its well-being," Williams said.

Gallardo has been an advocate for the Latino community, and his office believes this year will have the largest turnout of Latino voters in the history of the state. 

"Latinos don't need motivation to go out and vote — comments made by Donald Trump has made this election personal," Williams said. 

Representing 21 percent of eligible voters, both political parties recognize the importance of winning the Latino vote. Clinton and Trump are near a tie in Arizona, but an increased number of Latino voters could favor the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Latino voters in Arizona primarily identify themselves as Democrats. Richard Herrera, a professor at ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies, said minorities tend to favor the Democratic party because they feel that they are better represented when it comes to their well-being.

"Politicians like Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have fueled a stigma against the Latino community," Herrera said.

The nation's current political state has brought forward an increased number of minorities participating in the political process. Herrera said immigration is the most important issue for Latinos and served as the spark that pulled Latinos into the political process.

“The passing of SB 1070 in 2010 in Arizona resulted in the Latino community to coordinate and become more politically involved,” Herrera said. 

Herrera said organizations like One Arizona that help people advocate the importance of the Latino vote have also increased Latino political involvement. One Arizona has been at the forefront for advocating the importance of registering to vote.

The last time that Arizona has switched its political identity was during the 1996 Bill Clinton campaign. Sheldon Simon, another School of Politics and Global Studies professor, has spent most of his career in Arizona, and has seen the state vote a different way than its traditionally been known for. 

"It has been a long time since the state has been spoken of nationally as a potential win for the Democratic party," Simon said. 

In addition to partisan issues, Simon said political figures like Sheriff Joe Arpaio who have constantly been under the attention of the media has brought in a new wave of political participants eager to cast their voice.

"Young adults, including Blacks and Latinos, are now using their rights as new voters to cast their ballots and vote for a candidate who they see best represents them," Simon said.


Reach the reporter at jmdelga3@asu.edu or follow @jmdelga3 on Twitter.

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