WASHINGTON — With less than two weeks before the midterm election, analysts for a nonpartisan group that promotes civic participation projected Wednesday that 7.8 million Latinos will vote this year.
The projected Latino vote would be a 15 percent increase in turnout from the 2014 midterm election, with more Latino candidates running for top offices in 36 states, including Nevada.
“The Latino community is leaving no doubt that it is the political future of this nation,” said Arturo Vargas with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.
Vargas announced the projection and discussed the Latino vote during a news conference at the National Press Club.
Latino voters, he said, could play a deciding factor in several Senate races nationally, including those in Nevada, Texas and Florida.
And Latino candidates could increase the number of Latino lawmakers in the House from 34 to a projected 41 representatives.
Vargas said that number is “still not representative of the Latino electorate or the Latino population,” and the increase in federal seats is offset by an expected loss in Latinos in statehouses.
In many cases, Latino lawmakers in statehouses are seeking higher office without other Latinos seeking those vacant seats, Vargas said.
In Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, is leaving office due to term limits and Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., opted not to run for re-election following allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.
Vargas said one milestone of 2016 was the election of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., the first Latina elected to serve in the Senate.
Statewide, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, is being challenged by state Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, a Democrat.
Nationally, Vargas said Latinos are being ignored by the two major political parties, candidates and their campaigns.
“Latinos are ready to make their voices heard, but we need a reason to show up,” he said.
In Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Rep. Jacky Rosen are airing television advertising campaigns targeting Latino voters.
Latinos make up 28 percent of the Nevada population, and 328,000 are eligible to vote, according to Pew Research Center figures from 2016.
Only 42 percent of eligible Latinos in Nevada are registered to vote, compared with 81 percent of eligible white voters in the state.
A weekly tracking poll by Latino Decisions shows that 71 percent of Latino registered voters nationwide said they would vote in the upcoming election. Early voting has started in many states, including Nevada.
The poll also found that 62 percent of those Latino voters said the 2018 election is more important than the 2016 presidential election.
Of the likely Latino voters, 73 percent said they were leaning or would vote Democrat, and 23 percent Republican, with 4 percent undecided.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 10 through 22 and interviewed 502 Latino registered voters nationwide. The poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.