Latinas now hold power to decide Texas' future, data shows

Daniela Hurtado Image
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Action 13: The Latina Vote town hall
Join Daniela Hurtado for an Action 13 town hall, exploring the growing influence of Latinas in deciding elections in Texas and beyond.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In what is predicted to be a historic election year, Latinas are poised to play a supersized role when they cast their ballots for Congress and Texas' next governor.

After a record-breaking year for Hispanic turnout in 2018, NALEO predicts nearly 1 in 10 voters nationally in November will be of Latin or Hispanic background, with at least 11.6 million casting ballots by the end of Election Day.

That would be a 71.4% increase in Latin votes over the 2014 midterms.

Thursday, ABC13 reporter Daniela Hurtado hosted a town hall, highlighting how Latinas have now become the most influential voting bloc in the U.S.

Conchita Reyes, who founded the L.E.A.D. Together PAC, said the parties are finally waking up after disregarding Latin and Hispanic voters for years.

"We are a young ethnic group, but we are in large numbers, something to be aware of, and something that unfortunately the Republican Party and the Democratic Party never took into consideration and never took us serious," Reyes said. "So both parties are now catering to Latinos, and both parties are now trying to educate them."

In Texas, Hispanic voters are expected to hold 21.2% of the vote, more than enough to influence change at the ballot box.

Former Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez, who founded Texas Latino Conservatives, said Latin voters have come a long way, but still have so much ground to make up.

"The fourth largest city in America, which is about to become a majority Hispanic city, still has virtually zero representation at the city hall, and that's sad," Sanchez said. "How can we motivate the urban voters to get more involved in the political process? It's important, and everybody needs a voice."

But it's the Latinas whose voices are ringing loudest, many of them younger, turning out to the polls in larger numbers than Latin men.

With Latinas as the matriarchal center of families, civil rights leader Johnny Mata said it will be the women who lead the way to protect future generations.

"We have to turn out and vote. The issue is when we don't, we are not only hurting ourselves, but we're hurting our future generations in education, in health, in employment and in many areas where we are not currently representing our communities," he said.

But how will the Latinas ultimately vote? While Sanchez said Latin and Hispanic voters are not a monolith, a national UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vote poll revealed abortion among the top 5 issues for Latina voters.

Of those polled, 70% said they believe abortion should remain legal, no matter what their own personal beliefs are on the issue.

Among the most competitive U.S. House districts for Latin and Hispanic voters, two are right here in Houston: Texas' 7th congressional district, held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, and the 22nd congressional district, held by Republican U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls.

You can watch Thursday's town hall wherever you stream Eyewitness News on your TV, like Roku and Fire TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."