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Fronteras: New Report Investigates Factors That Encourage Latinos Engagement

Latinos are in a particular spotlight for the upcoming November general election. They’ve been touted as the “sleeping giant” that could make or break a critical race, but researchers found the perspectives of this voting demographic is as diverse as the people that comprise it.

The Texas Organizing Project Education Fund — in partnership with the strategic and creative consultancy firm Culture Concepts — commissioned a nonpartisan study to examine Latino voting attitudes.

Latinos make up 30% of the Texas electorate, and for the first time this year, they’re projected to become the second largest share of eligible voters in the country, after white people.

The report, “Real Talk: Understanding Texas Latino Voters Through Meaningful Conversation,” was intended to investigate what factors generate a Latino voter, Michelle Tremillo — executive director of TOP — explained. She added researchers are hopeful the report will also serve as a tool to help accelerate the growth of Latino participation.

“Latino voting has been steadily increasing, at least since 2008,” Tremillo said. “I think what's really critical for us with this study is that it demonstrates that Latinos, like all voters, want a reciprocal engagement.”

The study discovered Latinos who vote feel empowered and invested in the political system and have a sense of belonging on personal and social levels. Contrarily, Latino nonvoters question whether their vote actually matters and feel those in elected positions don’t take their experiences or perspectives into consideration. One driving force behind these two different attitudes comes down to social habits, said Cecilia Ballí, founder and principal of Culture Concepts, and co-author of the study.

“What happens is if you have a family for generations living a similar experience of not voting and also of experiencing other forms of disempowerment — socio-economic disempowerment — that habit of not voting becomes more entrenched,” Ballí explained. “And so it can be tougher to convince a third or fourth generation Latino who has never seen their family members vote and has not experienced a lot of economic mobility in their family, for instance.”

The report’s authors argue as the Latino population grows in Texas and across the country, it’s critical that voter turnout simultaneously increases.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren