MEMO: The Politics of Climate and the Latino Community
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Vanessa Cárdenas, Democratic
Strategist/Climate Power 2020 Advisor
RE: The Politics of Climate and the Latino Community
In 2020, the path to the White House for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump could largely depend on the Latino community — and whether this diverse and growing population turns out to vote.
With 32 million individuals eligible to vote this year, Latinos will be the second-largest voting bloc in the election after non-Hispanic whites, marking the first time Latinos will be the largest minority group making up the American electorate.
And it’s a voting bloc that holds opportunities for both Biden and Trump. Recent polls suggest Biden is trailing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 numbers among Latino voters by double-digits. A Quinnipiac University poll this month gave Biden a 20-point advantage among Latinos. Clinton won the Latino vote by close to 40 points.
We know the Trump campaign — evidenced by their frequent Latino roundtables and focus on states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida believe they have the ability to win over Latinos come November.
But President Trump’s climate denial and anti-environmental policies are yet another vulnerability for him with Latino voters. And that presents a large opportunity for Biden if he embraces a bold, intersectional climate message in the final months of the campaign. There is no other voting bloc in the United States that so consistently says that climate change and the environment is not only a top-tier issue but also motivates their decision to vote and for whom. This holds true across the United States and among the country’s diverse Latino communities. Younger Latinos are especially motivated by climate change action and messaging.
According to Yale Climate Change Communication’s research, Latinos are much more convinced global warming is happening and human-caused, more worried about it, and are more willing to get involved politically. Moreover, a recent Climate Power 2020 poll shows that Latinos are more likely to vote for someone who has a plan to take bold action. And an overwhelming 77% of Latino voters support a strong message of action to combat the climate crisis.
The focus on climate change among Latinos as a key political mobilizer is not surprising given that Latinos and other communities of color are facing the brunt of the climate crisis —and have been for decades. Latinos are 165% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of particle pollution and 51% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone pollution than non-Hispanic whites. Rates of cancer, asthma, and other pollution-connected diseases are also consistently higher among communities of color than within non-Hispanic white communities. One study found that, on average, Hispanics are forced to live with a pollution burden as they are exposed to 63%, more pollution than they create.
To mobilize and grow enthusiasm among Latinos, especially younger Latinos, Democrats need to speak forcefully about climate issues to Latino voters. Based on a recent Telemundo/Buzzfeed poll of young Latinos almost half (45%) cited protecting the environment as a top issue with particular support from young women.
There is already strong evidence that Latinos will go to the poll because of climate change. In 2018, climate change was a decisive issue for Latino voters and will be again this November. Latino Decisions polling data from the midterm election found that more than 78% of Latinos have personally experienced the effects of climate change in their state and more than 65% said they have personally experienced extreme weather patterns such as deadly heat waves, frequent and intense storms, and flooding within the past five years.
This disproportionate impact was particularly illustrated in the last few weeks with wildfires spreading across California, Oregon, and Washington. Latinos, African-Americans, and Native Americans experience a 50% greater vulnerability to wildfire than other census tracts. And Latino workers are the most exposed to the heat and toxic smoke from wildfires.
As the presidential campaign enters its last stretch, the Biden campaign has the advantage to win the Latino community by boldly embracing a climate message that addresses the need to protect the planet for future generations and address the environmental justices that frontline Latino communities are living with.
To hear more about this important topic and its relevance in the 2020 election, tune in to a conversation between hosted by Latino Rebels, Climate Power 2020, and Fuse on the need to elevate the climate crisis on the national stage by amplifying the voices of prominent young Latino climate leaders and activists who can speak directly to how the environmental injustices have affected the Latino community, and the need for candidates up and down the ballot to take bold action to defeat the climate crisis.
The event features Julio Ricardo Varela, founder of Latino Rebels, Cristela Alonzo, a comedian, actress, and producer, Jamie Margolin, the co-founder of Zero Hour, Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE and co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, and Teresa Leger Fernandez, the Democratic Nominee for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District