The GOP made gains among Latino voters in 2020 but Democrats remain the party of choice for upcoming midterms

As the second largest U.S. demographic group, Latinos are a significant political force that could determine the elections in the key midterm battleground states of Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

Not surprisingly, the anticipated impact of Latino voters has forced Democrats and Republicans to develop messages that not only resonate but also drive turnout on Election Day.

That is easier said than done.

Latino voters represent a diverse group of countries of origin, native languages, cultural values, education and personal characteristics. As with any demographic group, voting patterns are informed by individual experiences.

One thing is clear. Latino voters are turning out in record numbers.

In 2020, Latinos cast an estimated 16.6 million votes, an increase of 30.9% over their turnout in the 2016 presidential election.

If Latino communities are to be adequately represented in our democracy, then the complexity of those communities needs to be understood.

The majority of Latinos still vote democratic

As a licensed social worker among Latino immigrant communities, I have seen how many have endured heightened discrimination against their families and communities since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. I also have seen how these experience shape their mental well being and political decision-making.

Under the Trump Administration, workplace raids, immigrant detentions and family separations at the border instilled a deep fear and trauma among many Latino immigrant communities.

In one study, for instance, researchers found that stress associated with Trump-era policies – and continued under the Biden Administration – correlated with poorer mental health status among Latino adults.

A majority of Latinos — an estimated 63% — supported President Joe Biden in 2020. But there was about an 8 percentage-point swing toward Trump compared to 2016. Based on exit polling data, a higher percentage of Latino voters – 32% – cast their ballot for Trump in 2020 than the 29% that did in 2016.

How did Trump, with his anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric, garner increased support from Latino voters?