Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Latino voters are one of the fastest growing voting blocs in Nevada — 15 percent of the electorate in the state, up from 5 percent in 1994. Presidential candidates swooping into the state on both sides of the aisle have made plays for the Latino vote — hiring staff to specifically focus on the community, offering bilingual phone banks and playing up issues important to Latino voters.
Although Latino voters care a great deal about immigration policy, a recent study from the National Council of La Raza found that the economy was almost equally important for them heading into the 2016 election, said the organization’s deputy vice president Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro.
“A lot of folks who are not familiar with the Latino community tend to think about Latinos only in the context of immigration,” Martínez-de-Castro said. “It’s important for elected officials to understand that we are not unidimensional.”
The poll, conducted for NCLR by Latino Decisions, surveyed Latino voters in early- to mid-November, zeroing in on voters’ thoughts. The survey looked at responses from about 1,200 registered Latino voters across the country and took an extended look at voters here in Nevada. (The poll was conducted from Nov. 4 to Nov. 14 and has a margin of error of 6.2 percent, meaning that 19 times out of 20, the survey would return results within 6.2 percentage points of those that were observed.)
Here are some of the survey’s findings.
Latino voters in Nevada were optimistic about the economy but had concerns about personal finances and job security.
Fifty-five percent of respondents in the state believed that the economy was getting a lot better or somewhat better, compared to 21 percent who thought the economy was getting worse. Those numbers held relatively consistently with national trends.
But when it comes to their personal finances, voters were a lot less optimistic. Thirty-six percent of respondents said their personal finances had stayed the same over the last year and 25 percent said they had gotten worse over the last year. Job security was also a major concern, with almost half of Latino voters worrying that they or someone they know might lose their jobs and 63 percent of Latino voters worried at least once last year that they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills.
The top two issues for Latino voters in Nevada were immigration and the economy.
That trend holds consistent with national results. Other important issues included education, discrimination against immigrants or Latinos and foreign policy. Four out of five voters also said that they were either more interested or have the same level of interest in the 2016 election compared to 2012. Martínez-de-Castro said that this could be a product of some of the rhetoric that has emerged around immigration policy this election cycle.
“If we’re talking about what’s happening on the campaign trail, part of it is that the toxicity on the anti-Latino rhetoric is so strong that it’s been focused on that,” Martínez-de-Castro said.
More Latino voters tend to think that a presidential candidate who supports immigration reform will make economic opportunities better rather than worse for the Latino community.
They also were more likely to think that a candidate who opposed immigration reform would make economic opportunities worse for the Latino community. About a third of voters thought that economic opportunities would remain the same for the Latino community, regardless of whether the candidate strongly supports or strongly opposes immigration reform.
“What one can surmise is the notion that anti-immigration policies are actually bad economic policies for these voters, many of whom know people who are undocumented and can see it in a very direct way,” Martínez-de-Castro said.
Almost all Latino voters in Nevada consider tax credits for working families to be important.
Congress is considering extending a series of tax credits — ranging from those businesses can apply for to those that aid low-income families — by the end of the year. Two of those tax credits that low-income families can apply for are the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, both of which are set to expire by 2017. Nine out of 10 respondents said it was either very important or somewhat important for Congress supporting tax credits for working families, and seven out of 10 respondents said they would be less likely to vote for their member of Congress if they supported the business tax credits, but not those for low-income families.
Sixty-five percent of respondents also said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports cutting the Child Tax Credit — a tax credit low- and middle-income taxpayers with children — for non-U.S. citizens, although 21 percent said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.