PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Hispanics are expected to be the largest bloc of minority voters by the 2020 elections, but advocates say those numbers will be of little use if potential voters aren’t motivated to turn out at the polls. One of the reasons the gap exists is because Hispanics in noncompetitive states do not “particularly feel engaged” to vote, said Sylvia Manzano, a principal at Latino Decisions.
That’s why UnidosUS, formerly known as National Council of La Raza, announced plans Thursday for a multimillion-dollar campaign focused on five states, including Arizona, that will be aimed at boosting Latino civic engagement across the board and why Lara Trump and Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manger were in Arizona that same day to organize their Latino Base.
President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, urged supporters in Arizona Thursday to fight hard and build a culture of volunteering so the traditionally Republican state doesn’t fall into the Democratic column next year.
Parscale told campaign volunteers at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix that Arizona lacks the volunteer infrastructure in perennial swing states like Ohio and Florida.
“Arizona has not normally been a state we put this much work into,” Parscale said. “Democrats see Arizona as a possibility. I don’t think it’s there yet. But that’s why all of you have to make sure you get active and you work hard to make sure they don’t.”
Parscale, while working to motivate the 100 or so local Republicans who gathered for a get-out-the-vote field effort, dubbed the Trump Victory Leadership Initiative training. During a closed-door training, the room full of volunteers learned how to speak to voters in their precincts about Trump’s accomplishments, from construction on his signature border wall to job growth and his conservative judicial nominees. Ahead of the training, Parscale warned a Republican loss could result in Democrats taking away their guns and foisting “big government socialized medicine” on them.
“What I come here today is to ask for you to stand up,” Parscale said. “… It’s going to take all of you to make sure Arizona stays red. This is an important county (Maricopa), as we all know. This is a county where you knocking doors and you activating your neighborhood could change the results of the state.”
He pointed to Oregon as a cautionary tale, saying Republicans used to be competitive there, but the GOP infrastructure decayed as Democrats took control, similar to Pima County is now.
Trump won Arizona by 3.5 points in 2016, one of his smallest margins of victory.
Arizona has long been a Republican stronghold. But Democrats made inroads in last year’s midterms, thanks in part to a growing Latino voting-age population and disenchantment among college-educated women in the vast suburbs surrounding Phoenix. Both parties see the state as a 2020 battleground for the presidency and the U.S. Senate.
The opposing campaign by UnidosUS will work with hundreds of local advocacy groups, including 11 in Arizona, with a goal of registering 120,000 new voters nationwide in time for the elections, while reaching out to more than 350,000 current voters with get-out-the-vote activities.
“It’s meant to be more than a voter registration campaign,” UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguia said Thursday. “It means deploying the full force of our organization to lift our community up and make our voices heard at the ballot box in the 2020 elections.”
Murguia said the program aims to close what she calls a considerable gap between the number of eligible Latino voters and the number of actual voters.
While the Pew Research Center predicts that the number of voting-eligible Hispanics could hit 32 million by 2020, UnidosUS estimates that just about 14 million will actually turn out to vote. That would be more than the 13 million who voted in 2016 – but the gap between eligible and actual voters would be wider, as just 27.3 million Latinos were eligible to vote that year.
So the race for the Latinx vote is on.