Latino electorate provides key votes for Democrats in Colorado midterms
First-ever Colorado Latino Exit Poll shows voters prioritize making positive change over party loyalty
Yadira Caraveo addresses reporters for the first time as the U.S. representative-elect from Colorado’s 8th Congressional District, on Nov. 10, 2022, at her parents’ home in Adams County. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
Colorado’s Latino voters showed a strong preference for Democrats in the 2022 midterms, according to a new exit poll that says the Latino electorate was mobilized to vote based on the issues they care about.
The Colorado Latino Exit Poll, released for the first time this year, was organized by the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights and Voces Unidas, and it was conducted by BSP Research. The survey spoke with 531 Latino and Latina voters across the state, with a larger sample in the new 8th Congressional District because of its high number of Latino voters. It overwhelmingly found that Colorado’s Latino electorate cared more about voting in support of issues they care about and making positive change than political party loyalty.
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COLOR President and CEO Dusti Gurule noted the exit poll results reflect the priorities outlined in the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda, an annual report about the political views of Colorado Latinos, where economic issues were ranked as a top policy concern. She added specifically that Latino Coloradans are more likely to vote for candidates who support the expansion and protection of abortion access.
“One of the many fascinating findings of this exit poll … is that those economic concerns did not result in a backlash at the party in power, as many had anticipated,” Gurule said in a press conference Thursday. “But really, it was more of a need to vote their values that helped propel candidates and issues to victory up and down the ballot.”
Gabe Sanchez, a vice president of research with BSP, explained the results at Thursday’s press conference, similarly highlighting the importance of values for Latino votes. He said the results of the Colorado exit poll show the importance the Latino electorate had on the election overall — especially in U.S. Rep.-elect Yadira Caraveo winning Colorado’s 8th District seat, making history as Colorado’s first Latina to serve in the U.S. House. Caraveo, a state representative at present, ran against Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer in a new congressional district.
There was speculation that there would be a red wave election and that would be fueled primarily by Latino movement toward the Republican Party ... I'll note that there was movement, but it was relatively modest and in-line with what we typically see in off-year elections.
– Gabe Sanchez, of BSP
The electorate’s focus on making a positive impact led Latino voters to support certain Colorado ballot issues, including those supporting affordable housing and free meals for school children at a 3-to-1 margin and Democratic candidates at a 2-to-1 margin, Sanchez said. He also noted that the Latino electorate voted bluer than any other electorate in Colorado, meaning the population’s vote was influential in pushing Democrats over the line. For example, in the U.S. Senate race, 69% of Latino voters said they supported Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, who beat GOP challenger Joe O’Dea, and in the eight U.S. House races across the state, 72% supported the Democratic candidate.
“There was speculation that there would be a red wave election and that would be fueled primarily by Latino movement toward the Republican Party,” Sanchez said. “I’ll note that there was movement, but it was relatively modest and in line with what we typically see in off-year elections where a lot of voters move away from the incumbent president, in this context, Biden’s party the Democrats — so there was movement, but it wasn’t earth-shattering.”
Looking specifically at the 8th Congressional District, the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda highlighted that Latinos value seeing other Latinos elected to office, which translated to 75% of Latinos in the district supporting Caraveo. Since the 2020 election, the poll found that Latino voters in the district shifted toward more liberal attitudes and ideologies.
“We can definitely say without the Latino electorate going hard for her, she would not be the first Latina ever to enter the U.S. House from the state of Colorado,” Sanchez said of Caraveo.
Across the rest of the state, though, the poll found that only 19% of Latinos said their ideology has become more liberal compared to 24% of Latinos saying they are now more conservative, while 52% of Colorado Latino voters said their ideology hasn’t changed since 2020. Sanchez said this is a pretty modest shift compared to states like Florida or Texas, especially considering how the president’s party tends to fare in midterm elections.
The poll also asked respondents when they made up their minds on who and what they would vote for in the election, and 42% of respondents in the 8th District and across Colorado said it was more than a month before the time they took the poll, which was conducted from Oct. 10 to Nov. 8. Sanchez said this indicates that Latino voters need outreach from parties, candidates and advocates earlier on, with information about ballot initiatives and candidates.
One-fifth of Colorado Latino voters participated in an election for the first time in 2022, the poll also found. But it wasn’t just young voters — while 27% of first-time Latino voters fell into the 18-29 age group, an additional 23% of Latino voters aged 30-49 voted for the first time as well as 14% of voters over the age of 50.
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