Alex Padilla made history with his U.S. Senate win. What it means for Latinos
The Latino vote is about to go national.
After beating former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein and a handful of other Democrats Tuesday night, Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward carried a majority for an improbable third time in the U.S. Senate race. What does this mean for Latinos in the U.S. now?
“We’re just gonna keep making history,” Ward, who became the fifth of six children born to a single mother in metro Phoenix, told the Washington Post. It’s an achievement Arizona hasn’t had in the past 15 years — a milestone that’s also historically unique.
The last time a minority U.S. senator, who is also Latino, won a statewide election without support from minority voters was 1988. Ward, one of the youngest senators in the country, is making history at a time when the Latino voting bloc is growing by leaps and bounds.
The number of Latinos who identify with the Democratic Party has grown from 3 percent of the electorate in the 2012 election to 19 percent today. The share of white voters who identify as Democrats has declined from 69 percent to 58 percent. In addition, the Hispanic share of the population has doubled, while the white share has fallen 14 percent over the same period.
“There’s a growing majority in the population and the Democratic Party that are a lot more comfortable with and supportive of the Latino community,” said Steve Koczela, political science professor at Arizona State University.
And while the Latino vote has grown since the Obama election, there is still a long way to go. The Pew Research Center estimates that in the 2016 elections, as many minority voters were likely to support the Democratic candidate if they were told they were equally likely to vote for a Republican and a Democrat.
Latino turnout in the 2016 election was much lukewarm, at 29 percent of the vote, as Latinos only accounted for 11 percent of eligible voters. That’s the lowest Latino turnout in