Unease over growing costs among Latino voters in Nevada might influence elections.
Victor Villanueva’s Chicago White Sox cap was soiled with perspiration by the end of a recent door-knocking trip in East Las Vegas, a reflection of the time he had spent encouraging largely Latino residents in Clark County to vote in the 2022 Primary election Nevada .
With prices for everything from gas to food to rent rising, Villanueva’s work with Somos Votantes, a political group created in 2019 to increase Latino voter turnout in Nevada and around the country, is as much a sounding board as it is an organiser.
“They’re telling me they’re suffering,” Villanueva said, recalling a series of discussions he’d had during a canvassing session in an East Las Vegas area with a large Latino population. Most talks moved to cost within minutes of Villanueva knocking on a door, with voter after voter expressing that their money isn’t going as far as it used to.
For Nevada Democrats, the economic fear he hears on a daily basis is an existential issue. Nevada Democrats, led by the late Senator Harry Reid, have spent years transforming the once-red state into a difficult place for Republicans to win. Democrats hold the governorship, the state legislature, three out of four congressional seats, and both US Senate seats, which is a major reason for their success.
However, Primary election the party’s support among Latinos is now in doubt. During former President Donald Trump‘s presidency, Latino voters leaned toward Republicans to varied degrees, as has been the case across the country.
With voters feeling the pinch of rising costs, they may vent their anger on the ruling party. With two high-profile statewide contests (Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto both up for reelection) and two contested House seats in Southern Nevada, the consequence may be severe.
“Everything is so costly anymore,” Isaura Gonzalez, a 41-year-old Las Vegas casino employee, said Villanueva as they conversed on her front porch. “You used to go to the store and spend $150 for one, maybe two weeks; now you go to the store and purchase simply a few of things for maybe today and tomorrow.” And that’s already $150.”
Gonzalez’s thoughts are far from unusual, according to Villanueva.
“That’s a really typical subject,” Villanueva said, noting how intimate individuals are ready to engage with strangers at their door. “It’s not something that’s generally spoken in public, especially with someone you don’t know….” If they’re willing to come out and talk about it,
Gonzalez told CNN that she and many others in her neighbourhood had typically supported Democrats — she was on the verge of not voting at all in 2020, she said — but that she has seen friends switch parties due to the recent hardship.
“Many individuals have switched (party) or aren’t voting because they know it won’t make a difference,” she added. “Perhaps I should reconsider my attitude, and perhaps I should vote for other parties.”