Latino Voters Will Be Key in the Recall Election—but It’s Unclear How They’ll Lean

According to experts, California’s Latino voters remain a ’critical unknown’ for Governor Gavin Newsom

Now that opponents of Governor Gavin Newsom have collected enough verified signatures to force a recall election, experts predict that Latino voters will be key in deciding the outcome—but experts also say it’s difficult to determine who Latino voters will support.

In California in 2020, Latinos cast more ballots than in any previous presidential race, and they are expected to bring that clout to bear in the coming special election.

“Latinos have a smaller turnout, as do Asian Americans. So, I expect that to be the case,” Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, tells ABC 7. “Nonetheless, Latinos will be about one-fifth of all the voters in this recall election.”

A recent poll showed that 44.5 percent of Latinos would vote to oust Newsom, but while there are more Latino Republicans in California than in 30 other states combined, GOP consultant Mike Madrid points out to ABC 7 that, in Golden State numbers, they represent “just a sliver of the electorate,” but adds that in recalls, “every vote literally does matter.”

Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles, tells ABC 7 he believes that the coming contest will be decided by how voters feel about Newsom’s pandemic response, but among Latinos, that factor is hard to quantify.

“The Latino vote is a very critical unknown going into this recall election because the Latino community has been hit so hard in so many different ways, both health care but also economically,” he told the station.

A new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 59 percent of likely voters approve of how Newsom handled jobs and the economy, and 59 percent also gave him high marks on school reopening. Yet Loyola’s Guerra is among those who favor another Democrat getting into the race should events not go Newsom’s way or if, in the wake of his display at French Laundry, he happens to shoot himself in the other foot.

“The economy may not rebound,” Guerra says. “There could be out of control wildfires. I’m of the position that there should be a consensus Democrat on the ballot, just in case Newsom implodes.”

Whatever Newsom may or may not do, Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, told ABC 7 she wants Latino voters to remember what happened when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won the last recall election.

“Many voters were not around in our last recall,” she warns. “But I want to remind them that what we saw immediately after the recall, was, you know, the taking away of rights for immigrants, including taking away driver’s licenses.”

RELATED: If a Dem Needs to Run in the Newsom Recall, Keep an Eye on These SoCal Pols

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