We are the voters we are waiting for…

By Political Parity on November 6, 2014
Many news outlets are summing up Latino voter engagement in the midterm elections with just one statement: Latino voters stayed home.  Early reports on voter turnoutsestimate Latinos made up only eight percent of voters, compared to ten percent in the 2012 elections. What difference does two percent make? “Every vote counts” is the usual rhetoric we hear before any election, and in this case, it’s only too true. Two percent would have changed the outcome of at least four elections, and in the case of Florida, two percent means Annette Taddeo would have been elected as their first Latina lieutenant governor. The point is this: two percent matters.

Based on turnout estimates, we lost 2.4 million Latino voices in this election. In the weeks leading up to the election, Hispanic voters were frustrated with the lack of progress on immigration and consciously decided to protest the election or just simply became disengaged. With a record 25.2 million eligible Latino voters in 2014, 18.6 million voters74%—choosing not to vote is alarming. To the 6.6 million Latino voters who showed up to the polls: thank you. Our voice matters. Our vote matters.

This midterm election was a missed opportunity for us to change out the usual players in Washington. Nationally, we had a slate of 17 Latinas vying for seats in Congress and six forstatewide executive office. Of the challengers, all would have been the first Latina to represent their communities. Almost all incumbents were the first Latinas to serve in their elected office. Unfortunately, only about 50% of these Latinas won their races on Tuesday (see tables below).

2014 Latina Candidates for Congress (U.S. House)

State U.S. House District Candidate Name & Party Status of Seat Election Results
CA 32 Grace Napolitano (D) Incumbent Won (59.4%)
CA 35 Norma Torres (D) Open seat Won (63.3%)
CA 38 Linda Sanchez (D) Incumbent Won (58.7%)
CA 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) Incumbent Won (61.4%)
CA 46 Loretta Sanchez (D) Incumbent Won (56.7%)
FL 27 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) Incumbent Won
NM 01 Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) Incumbent Won (58.6%)
NY 07 Nydia Velazquez (D) Incumbent Won (89%)
WA 03 Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) Incumbent Won (60.6%)
AZ 03 Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (R) Challenger Lost (45.3%)
CA 21 Amanda Renteria (D) Challenger Won (40.7%)
CA 22 Suzanna Aguilera-Marrero (D) Challenger Lost (27.8%)
NV 01 Annette Teijeiro (R) Challenger Lost (37.9%)
NH 02 Marilinda Garcia (R) Challenger Lost (45%)
NM 02 Roxanne “Rocky” Lara (D) Challenger Lost (35.5%)
TX 35 Susan Narvaiz (R) Challenger Lost (33.3%)
UT 02 Luz Robles (D) Challenger Lost (33.2%)

2014 Latina Candidates for Statewide Executive Office

State Office Candidate Name & Party Status of Seat Election Results
NM Governor Susana Martinez (R) Incumbent Won (57.3%)
RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) Open seat Won (60%)
IL Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti (R) Challenger Won (50.7%)
FL Lieutenant Governor Annette Taddeo (D) Challenger Lost (47.05%)
NV Lieutenant Governor Lucy Flores (D) Open seat Lost (33.6%)
TX Lieutenant Governor Leticia Van de Putte (D) Challenger Lost (40%)

The total number of Latinas in Congress remains unchanged at nine; and although there were four Latinas running for lieutenant governor, onlyone was elected. Evelyn Sanguinetti won her race for lieutenant governor of Illinois, which marks the first time a Latina will serve as lieutenant governor nationwide. In addition, Nellie Gorbea’s election as Rhode Island’s Secretary of State makes her the first Latina elected to statewide office in New England. To all the courageous Latinas who ran in this election, thank you.  You’re an inspiration and we look forward to your next run.

The growing number of Latina candidates signals a growing momentum to increase Latina representation. How will we change the status quo? In the coming months, the lessons from these campaigns will be lifted up and used in preparation for a new round of Latina candidates in 2016.  At the end of the day, though, one basic thing is needed to win an election: votes. If 2014 is any indication of what is to come, we will have a robust slate of talented, qualified Latina candidates in 2016. Latina candidates are doing their part; will we do ours?