Yet, is this suffice to conclude that the issue of immigration is the greatest factor in determining the Latino vote? There is no empirical evidence that suggests there exists a single decisive factor driving the Latino vote. The reality is that the Latino community is heterogeneous in its values, socio-economic status, nationality, and beliefs. This creates a voting pool that is diverse and complex. Arguably, one might consider that the Democrat’s stand on immigration reform and economic policy would prompt most Latinos to vote democrat. And in fact, the LNS data survey demonstrated that two out of three Latinos identify as supporters of the Democratic Party. However, there are other factors at work. For example, Cubans in Southern Florida have historically voted Republican due to the historical importance of the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and their preference for a smaller government. Variance in this alleged “voting block” in not an isolated phenomenon. During María Hinojosa’s talk on campus we learned about the differences in political preferences of Latinos across generations and within the same family. What is more, Latinos are namely Catholic, and thus hold a predominantly conservative stance on social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion. This could allow for an “issue-bundling” effect that prompts Latinos to vote Republican because of irreconcilable social beliefs. If so, would low-income Latinos vote Republican because they are pro-life despite it being economically disadvantageous? This resurfaces the question, which is the decisive factor? Which issue has a stronger pull? Or is there none? In which case, should the Latino vote be targeted at all?
In a discussion with Professor Guillermo Rosas previous to María Hinojosa’s visit to campus, we conversed about whether increasing upwards social mobility in the long run would decrease the salience of immigration reform, as Latinos shift their preference in economic policy. Would a Latino then vote Republican, despite a lack of an immigration policy that tends to the needs of other Latinos? Keeping in mind that 1 in every 4 Latinos knows someone who has been detained or deported, would cultural ties stir them towards the opposite?
Ultimately, I want to reinforce the principle that there are numerous factors that determine voter preferences, be it religious, socio-economic, racial, historical, philosophical, ideological, or pragmatic. And that premise does not change when looking at Latinos. The takeaway being that by complicating the issue of what drives the Latino vote, we actually gain a more representative understanding of the electoral reality.
Sophomore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org