May 23, 2024 - News

Latino voters look to sway Colorado congressional races, ballot measures

Illustration of a pattern of “I voted” stickers in Spanish and English.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Latinos will play a key role this year in deciding congressional races in suburban Denver — and potentially even the Western Slope.

Why it matters: Their votes could reshape Congress come fall.

State of play: The voting bloc represents roughly 15% of Colorado voters, Metro State University political science professor Robert Preuh tells us, though they make up roughly 23% of Colorado residents.

  • Preuh says the difference is due to Latinos being generally younger and some being non-citizens.
  • 17.5 million Latinos are projected to cast ballots this year in the U.S., with 1 in 5 doing so for the first time in a presidential election, according to UnidosUS.

Yes, but: Some Latinos here are unaware they can vote, something advocacy organizations like Mi Familia Vota are working to fix, Colorado director Tim Hernandez tells us.

Zoom in: U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Democrat running for re-election and the first Latina elected to Congress in Colorado, won the 8th Congressional District seat in 2022 thanks to Latino support.

  • Hernandez says Latinos will be "critical" in deciding a winner in a district stretching just north of Denver to Greeley. No congressional district in the state is home to more Latino voters, Preuh says.
  • It's considered among the most competitive districts in the country.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican, is now a wide-open race after Boebert moved to the 4th district.

  • Covering the Western Slope and Pueblo, Preuh says this seat doesn't get nearly as much attention for its sizable Latino population, which is third among Colorado's districts.
  • Latinos tend to be more conservative here than in urban areas, Preuh says.

Higher voter registration would translate to a larger voter share, though Hernandez says it's too early to say whether this will mean these voters will have an outsized impact in places like CD3.

Context: The top issues for Latino voters include reducing inflation, addressing climate change, improving job opportunities, addressing gun violence and protecting access to abortion — all major issues for typical voters.

The intrigue: Dusti Gurule, president and CEO of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, says a state measure enshrining abortion in the state's constitution will drive Latino voter turnout.

  • Gurule, whose organization helped put the measure on the ballot and endorsed Caraveo for re-election, tells us the vote will provide a "tangible" way for people to impact thousands of people's lives.

Between the lines: Newer Latino voters, who are largely younger, are 14% less likely to identify as Democrats than more established voters nationwide, according to UnidosUS, a national civil rights group.

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