The Latino vote has been dubbed “the sleeping giant” for every election cycle I can remember. Every four years pundits and analysts wonder why, even as the Latino population has become the largest minority in the US, their participation in the electorate hasn’t kept pace. What might it take to wake the giant?
Enter Donald Trump. From the moment he announced his candidacy – calling Mexicans criminals and rapists – Trump anchored his campaign in anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hostility. He threatened to build a wall at the border and to mass deport the 11 million undocumented people in this country. He made racist comments against a federal district judge of Mexican heritage, and suggested that most Latinos and blacks live in inner city hells.
And, as it turns out, he also finally awoke the sleeping giant.
Early voting data shows that the long-awaited Latino surge has finally happened – already, Latino turnout vastly exceeds that of four years ago, and in swing states like Florida and Nevada the gains could be enough to give Hillary the advantage over Trump’s lead with working class white voters.
And although early voting doesn’t necessarily predict how the election will play out, it does give us an idea about voter enthusiasm. Our friends at Huffington Post Latino Voices are capturing this enthusiasm by encouraging Latino voters to share their reasons for heading to the polls with the hashtags #ThisLatinoVotedBecause and #ThisLatinaVotedBecause.
We’ve rounded up some of the inspiring reasons people are mobilizing below.