A new math ripples through this year’s political campaign.
Yes, the ethnic groups are key. But now, by a smidgen, Latinos are the largest of the groups.
At times, said Bernardo Ruiz (whose PBS documentary airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday), that’s a hard group for anyone to dominated. “The Latino vote has never been a monolith.”
But at times. it seems like one. “Latino Vote: Dispatches From the Battleground” starts with a Latino surge, helping Bernie Sanders more than double anyone else in the Nevada primary. That was sparked, Ruiz told the Television Critics Association recently, by “the work that Chuck Rocha (shown here) … and others did, including a number of local organizers ancommunity activists.”
His film shows Rocha, in cowboy hat, delighting in the commotion. “There’s an undertow of energy in the community,” he tells Ruiz.
And then “the entire world changed,” Ruiz said.
The pandemic sapped the sort of in-person surge that had thrust Sanders. When Ruiz got to Florida, he found masked workers handing packets food cars packets to people in cars, urging them to register.
He found disagreement among younger Cuban-Americans. Rocha interviewed two passionate young women, “both from families that fled Cuba, but (who) have come to very different political” views.
The overall numbers are surging, Ruiz said. Latinos have “18 percent of the population, but about 13 percent of the” voters.
Between 2000 and 2020, the Pew Research Center says, their percentage of the voters jumped from 7.4 to 13.3. Blacks have gone from 11.5 to 12.5, Asians from 2.5 to 4.7. Whites still have two-thirds of the voters … but in 2000 they topped three-fourths.
By one view, the immigration debate will propel Joe Biden. “Donald Trump will go down in the history books as the greatest Latino organizer of all time,” Laura Jimenez, a Biden activis, says in the film.
But there are Republican strengths, Ruiz said, including the Cuban-Americans and an emerging trend: “Evangelical voters (are) a big part of the Latino story in 2020.”
They’re in the film, too. It’s a big, varied story, squeezed into an hour.