ELECTIONS

A record 400,000 Latinos voted in 2022 Arizona's midterm election, firm says

Isai Barajas registers a new voter at a Water Days Event at Grant Park in Phoenix on July 30, 2022, as part of the Sí Se Vota CPLC Action Fund voter engagement campaign.
Daniel Gonzalez
Arizona Republic

At least 400,000 Latino voters participated in the Arizona's midterm elections, a record number that likely played a pivotal role in several close races, according to projections by a Democratic consulting firm.

The projected 400,000 Latino voters represent about 15.5% of the nearly 2.6 million total votes cast in Arizona's midterm elections, up from about 15% in 2018, according to the projections by DJ Quinlan, a partner at Radar Strategies, who is a former executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party.

This was the third consecutive election cycle where a record number of Latinos cast ballots, Quinlan said.

In 2020, a presidential election year, when turnout is typically higher than midterm elections, nearly 570,000 Latino voters participated, Quinlan said. Latinos made up 18% of the total electorate in 2020 in Arizona, up from 16% in 2016, he said.

"We are now three elections in a row where the Latino turnout has functionally hit a record and where you've had very close races up and down the ballet that the Latino community was likely a deciding factor," Quinlan said. "Obviously, not the only deciding factor, but I think a really critical one."

Quinlan's firm was part of a nonpartisan Latino voter outreach campaign led by an arm of Chicanos Por La Causa. Organizers of the campaign were careful not to say whether Democrat or Republican candidates benefitted from the record number of Latino voters because under the IRS rules the outreach campaign must remain nonpartisan.

The get-out-the-vote "campaign was totally nonpartisan. We were about getting more Latinos to vote. Period. Who they voted for was up to them," said Joe Garcia, executive director of the Si Se Vota CPLC Action Fund, a 501c4 organization.

Latinos Unidos Contra el Sida (LUCES) and Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) provided support to the West Valley community.

Garcia attributed part of the record Latino voter turnout in Arizona to the group's "Latino Loud" voter outreach campaign. Garcia estimated the campaign increased Latino voter turnout by more than 52,000 voters, including newly registered voters and "low-propensity" voters, who are voters who were registered but had not voted in the last one or two elections.

CPLC invested $10 million in the Latino Loud campaign, which included door to door canvassing, a free concert that drew 3,200 people to the Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, and 3 million fliers mailed to homes in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties which all have high percentages of Latino residents. Garcia said the campaign was intended to boost Latino voter participation not just this year but in future elections.

Democratic candidates most likely benefited more than Republicans from the record Latino voter turnout in Arizona based on exit polls that showed Latino voters favored Democratic candidates over Republicans. What's more, about 45% of Latino voters are registered as Democrats in Arizona, compared to 28% for non-Latinos, according to the NALEO Education Fund. Nationally, Democrats lost support among both Latino men and women nationally compared to 2018, according to CNN.

CPLC also has a separate political action committee, CPLC-Action Fund, that endorsed mostly Democratic candidates in statewide races, including Katie Hobbs, who narrowly beat Republican candidate Kari Lake in the race for governor. Lake has not conceded and has maintained that Arizona's election was botched.

CPLC-Action Fund also endorsed Democrats Mark Kelly for U.S. Senate, Adrian Fontes for secretary of state, Kris Mayes for Arizona attorney general, Kathy Hoffman for state superintendent of public instruction, and Martin Quezada for treasurer.

Kelly beat Republican challenger Blake Masters, and Fontes beat Republican Mark Finchem. Hoffman lost to Republican Tom Horne and Quezada lost to Republican incumbent Kimberly Yee. Mayes led Republican challenger Abe Hamadeh by 510 votes and the race is headed to a recount in December.

The CPLC-Action Fund also endorsed Juan Ciscomani, a Republican, to represent Arizona's 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ciscomani defeated Democratic challenger Kirsten Engel.

"They all sought our endorsement because they knew that that was their way of reaching out to the Latino community to get the CPAC Action Fund PAC, political action committee endorsement." Garcia said.

Garcia said he believes that the public can make a distinction between the CPLC-Action Fund political committee's endorsement of political candidates and the Si Se Vota CPLC Action Fund, focused on nonpartisan voter outreach campaign. The words "Si Se Vota" were added to help make the distinction, he said.

"So we are trying to make that delineation greater," Garcia said.

Eric Gorovitz, a tax lawyer with the firm Adler & Colvin based in San Francisco, said in general it's very common for tax exempt organizations to engage in nonpartisan activity including voter outreach and partisan activity including political endorsements through a separate 501c4 and political action committee under the same brand as long as proper tax returns and campaign finance reporting laws are followed.

"There's nothing wrong with that as long as they're using the right money for the right purposes," Gorovitz said.

Garcia said the voter outreach campaign also targeted younger Latino voters.

Latinos make up about 19% of registered voters in Arizona, according to the NALEO Education Fund.

Latino registered voters are younger than non-Latino registered voters, according to NALEO. For instance, 17% of registered Latino voters are between 18 and 24, compared to just 7% for non-Latinos. And 26% of Latino registered voters are 25-34 compared to 15% of non-Latinos. In contrast, 54% of non Latino voters are 50 and over, compared to 32% of Latinos, according to NALEO Education Fund.

"We are the long game," Garcia said. "Even though we're very happy with what happened in terms of voter turnout in the 2022 election, that was not our our big push. Our big push is not even the 2024 elections, but all elections moving forward."

The NALEO Education Fund projected earlier this year that 644,000 Latino voters would participate in Arizona's 2022 midterm elections, considerably higher than the 400,000 Latino voters projected by Quinlan.

Quinlan attributed the disparity to differences in the way Latino voters are estimated.

Quinlan said he uses an algorithm that analyzes county voter data rolls mostly based on Hispanic surnames and Hispanic first and middle names as well as geography. His analysis therefore may miss voters who self-identify as Latino but do not have Hispanic names or live in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

"I think our count is really a floor of what the Latino turnout is," Quinlan said.