Latino turnout key to San Diego mayoral election outcome

LGBT Weekly: Latino turnout key to San Diego mayoral election outcome
Byline: February 10, 2014

As voters head to the polls tomorrow, both campaigns should pay close attention to Latino participation. A Latino Victory Project–Latino Decisions (LVP/LD) sponsored poll indicated that 74 percent of likely Latino voters have been following the news about the mayoral elections somewhat or very closely and that among these voters, 75 percent favored candidate David Alvarez to Kevin Faulconer who polled at 10 percent. Among respondents, 15 percent were still undecided. These results greatly differed from a Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Democratic Party that showed a dead heat in the race. In the PPP results, Latino preference for Alvarez to Faulconer was 63-28, a 35-point gap as compared to the 65-point lead in the LVP/LD poll showing an Alvarez victory. An earlier Survey USA/Union Tribune news poll reported a 4-point gap between Alvarez and Faulconer among Latino voters.

Latinos make up 20 percent of San Diego’s registered voters and include large populations of Spanish-only speakers. Unlike the last two polls cited, the LVP/LD survey was conducted in Spanish and English and included an oversampling of Latino voters to more accurately reflect city demographics. The data suggests that Latinos will play a decisive role in this election if they come to the polls tomorrow.

San Diego voters have exuded excitement around the mayoral race despite the low voter turnout in the November primary-only 35 percent of San Diego voters and only 27 percent in District 8, which is largely Latino and home to candidate David Alvarez. When surveyed in the LVP/LD poll, 73 percent of Latinos said it was somewhat or very important that San Diego elect its first Latino mayor. Similarly, this dynamic was evidenced in the Los Angeles mayor’s election nearly a decade ago where a Latino candidate, Antonio Villaraigosa, drove Latino turnout at higher rates than all other groups. When the LVP/LD poll was released in mid-January 2014, only 37 percent of likely Latino voters reported that they had been contacted by a campaign or candidate asking them to vote. This suggests that voter mobilization by both campaigns could lead to a path to victory tomorrow.

The Latino Victory Project shared poll results with various nonprofits and voter mobilization groups to encourage Latino participationon Tuesday and demonstrate the power of this community to be political game-changers. Evidence has shown that higher levels of Latino engagement and voter turnout occur when there are Latino candidates on the ballot but campaigns must have on the ground outreach and person-to-person contact to establish a personal stake in the process.

Going into Election Day, here are the four questions that should be asked about Latino turnout:

1. What are the campaigns doing for Latino GOTV in the last 24 hours?

2. What is Latino turnout like in the strongest Latino precincts?

3. What is the plan if Latinos aren’t showing up by mid-day?

4. What does this race mean for other mid-term contests with a Latino on the ballot and more broadly, the ability of the Latino community to demonstrate and execute real political power in the 2014 election cycle?

The Latino community in San Diego is in a strong position to affect change in the city and create city-wide policies that support Latino values, but they must turn out and show their voice through their vote. At the end of the day, projections mean nothing if the Latino community isn’t engaged by the campaigns.

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