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Latino voters largely favor Democrats, but economic concerns could lead them to vote Republican in 2022

By: - November 3, 2022 4:23 pm

Photo by Natasha Khan | Cronkite News

Latino voters in Arizona are still likely to lean heavily Democratic this midterm election, aligning with the left on social issues like abortion and gun control — but they remain skeptical of Democrats’ ability to fix the economy, according to a Univision News poll released this week. 

“Latinos tend to be more socially liberal, but economic issues are where Democrats are underperforming on policy outcomes,” Matt Barreto, a Democratic pollster and professor of political science at UCLA, said during a Nov. 1 media call discussing the poll. 


Univision News, along with the Center for Latino/os and American Politics Research at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University conducted the poll through cell phone and landline calls, along with texts. They surveyed 1,000 voters registered in Arizona, 500 of whom were Latino. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. 

According to the poll, inflation is at the top of mind for not only Latinos, but all Arizona voters, ranking as the No. 1 issue of concern in the upcoming election for 54% of Arizonans polled and 49% of Latinos. 

Other important issues for Arizona Latinos are abortion, a top concern for 24%, and mass shootings and gun policy issues, at 22%. 

While nationwide in 2020 some Latinos shifted to the right, with around 32% voting for former President Donald Trump, Barreto said he doesn’t necessarily think that’s an indicator of a long term trend. He views it more as a result of a significant percentage of the Latino electorate being new voters who either recently became naturalized citizens or recently reached voting age. These people probably haven’t yet formed strong ties to either party and might be more easily swayed by particular issues than more experienced voters who have a strong allegiance to either party. 

Univision Polling Director Sergio Garcia-Rios agreed that Latinos tend to be younger voters than the electorate at large. 

“Also, we see in these polls that Latinos care about diverse issues that don’t always match either official party agenda, meaning they were built without thinking about the Latinos,” he said. 

Around 70% of Arizona Latinos polled said they believe the Democratic Party really cares about them, but only about 39% said the same about the Republican Party. 

While Latinos might broadly lean Democratic, they also tend to be “more open to short-term forces that push them one way or another,”  Republican pollster Darren Shaw said during the call. 

But even during this midterm election, which usually results in the party of a first-term president losing seats in Congress, some experts don’t think there will be as big of a turnover as the country has seen in the past. 

That’s even as the U.S. faces issues like increases in crime and inflation that would typically give Republican candidates a boost. 

In 2010, during former President Barack Obama’s first term, Democrats lost more than 60 seats in Congress. Shaw doesn’t think that will be the case this time around, predicting a Democratic loss of somewhere between 18-28 seats. 

“I don’t see a 60-seat swing, but it’s still going to be a tough climb for Democrats,” he said.

Barreto, Garcia-Rios, and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who hosted Tuesday’s call, all expressed concern about an increase in disinformation being spread in Spanish this election cycle targeted at Latinos in the U.S.

Because of a decreased reliance on media sources that were popular in the past, like nightly news programs, and an increase in finding news through social media, it can be difficult for voters to find accurate information, Barreto said. Much of this disinformation originates in South America and Spain, he added. 

“It is preying on people’s fears and it is providing false information that looks real,” Barreto said.

The increase in disinformation specifically targeted at Latinos puts more pressure on candidates to reach that community, and puts pressure on journalists to reach readers and viewers with the actual facts, Barreto said.


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Caitlin Sievers
Caitlin Sievers

Caitlin joined the Arizona Mirror in 2022 with almost 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor, holding local government leaders accountable from newsrooms across the West and Midwest. She's won statewide awards in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin for reporting, photography and commentary.