These Arizona Latino voters want Trump reelected

Saucedo is among a coalition of Republican Latinos in the battleground state of Arizona who believe having Trump for a second term would guarantee their concerns and conservative social values — centered on the economy and faith — are protected and maintained.

“I want to have the opportunity to continue with my American Dream, that is why I came to this country as an immigrant,” said Saucedo, who became an American citizen in 1991 and is running for a position on the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

Yet many of his Latino supporters in the Copper State, overwhelmingly of Mexican descent, point to Trump’s business-oriented policies, such as lowering taxes and lifting regulations, as more consequential actions that, they say, have benefited wages and employment levels in their communities. This, along with religious conservatism — particularly antiabortion stances — are the reasons they want to see him reelected.

The rationale illuminates the different ways Latinos, predicted to become the largest group of non-White voters, are impelled to cast their vote based on factors that vary from state to state and reflect local dynamics. Although a majority of the group has traditionally supported Democrats, some Latino voters say they now find more common ground with Republican principles, challenging the notion of a monolithic voting bloc.

“It infuriates me that the government puts me in a box and calls me a Latino or a Hispanic or minority female,” Saucedo said. “It doesn’t work for me, because I am no different than other Americans in terms of the things that interest me: to be able to put food on my table, to have a job.”

“Most Latinos here, we are all in the same boat, especially the ones coming from Mexico like me,” Saucedo said. “We are luchadores, entrepreneurs, we fight for what we want. We just want to be left alone, and the government to let markets flow.”

The pragmatic logic behind the vote is simple, according to Reymundo Torres, a Mexican American Trump supporter and president of the Arizona Latino Republican Association. Latino entrepreneurs have much to gain from a “free, robust economy,” he said, governed by lower taxes and fiscal responsibility.

Higher taxes, generally viewed as a liberal policy, would hurt more than 3.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona, he said.

Some residents such as Torres live in border states heavily dependent on trade with Mexico. They see the signing of the free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, negotiated under Trump, as beneficial for the local economy and crucial for the post-coronavirus recovery of jobs and wages.

But it’s more than just economic issues driving some Latinos to Trump. Rudolfo Peña, a 68-year-old registered Democrat and self-employed construction worker from Phoenix, said he witnessed the party’s gradual shift further to the left as he grew older. It was the party’s stance on abortion that first made him question his own political views.

It was Trump’s “willingness to fight back” against the political establishment, the media and the Democratic leadership, he said, that won him over. He will vote for Trump again Nov. 3.

“It was what we were waiting for, literally for decades,” Peña said.

Republican Latinos who spoke to The Washington Post argued that the excessive bureaucracy of liberal policies gets in the way of the Latino entrepreneurial spirit.

“I just don’t want to have to jump through so many hoops and endless paperwork to be able to make a living while Democrats willingly prefer to help those who don’t follow the rules,” Peña said.

Although Latinos remain a key constituency for the Democratic Party, their vote has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, George W. Bush secured a significant 44 percent of the Latino vote. Then the pendulum swung back in Democrats’ favor in 2012, when President Barack Obama took 71 percent.

But the enthusiasm for Democrats has wavered since: Hillary Clinton won 66 percent in 2016, compared with Trump’s 28 percent, according to network exit polls in 2016. In the run-up to the 2020 election, a Fox News poll published in the past week showed more Latino support for Trump than four years ago, with 57 percent supporting Biden and 41 percent supporting Trump.

Strategists and advocacy groups say the recent shift away from Democrats correlates with low levels of outreach in Latino and Hispanic communities from both parties.

“For a long time Democrats have taken Latinos for granted, and Republicans have ignored them,” said Clarissa Martínez de Castro, vice president of UnidosUS, a Latino advocacy group.

Martinez said the limited effort in both parties to court Latino voters is surprising considering the high level of Latino turnout in past elections.

“The word that best describes the outreach to Latinos is ‘anemic,’ ” she said. “That is why many of them remain unconvinced.”

But with a record 32 million eligible…

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