Diaz on the Increasing Influence of Voters of Color

Several media outlets have called on Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, for insights on election-related issues including the presidential debates, voter suppression and the important role of voters of color. On ABC7’s Eyewitness Newsmakers, beginning at minute 16:35, Diaz addressed misconceptions about the engagement of the Latino electorate, noting that younger voters do not turn out at the same rate as older Americans. She added, “Our studies show that 30% of Americans that will cast a ballot on Nov. 3 are non-white. This is really important and will only continue to increase for foreseeable generations.” On WHYY’s Radio Times, Diaz said some states are instituting “arduous hoops to overcome the ballot box … at a time when we are still not over the hump with this pandemic.” She concluded, “I think that this election is a lot about whether or not people are going to be able to cast a ballot without risking their lives.” 


Diaz on Trump’s Appeal to Latino Voters

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to CNN about President Trump’s recent efforts to court Latino voters. While Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been criticized for being slow to commit resources to reach Latino voters, Trump has ramped up efforts to improve his standing among Latino constituents. “What appeals to Latino voters who are supporting Trump is the same thing that appeals to voters who support Trump,” Diaz said. “It’s likely that Latino males will support Trump in 2020 at higher rates than Latinas. And you see that generally in terms of the trends of white voters and white males in particular.” Diaz pointed to Trump’s appeal to male voters in general, saying, “I think that there’s something around masculinity and misogyny that is really galvanizing some voters who identify as men. And I don’t know that there is a cultural component to it. It’s just an American male phenomenon.”

Steinert-Threlkeld on Social Media Response to Kamala Harris

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld spoke to Zenger News about the growing role of social media in recent election cycles. Social media engagement with stories about Joe Biden hit a high the week the Democratic presidential candidate named Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Social media has become a more significant part of the political process than in previous election cycles, Steinert-Thelkeld explained. This increase in social media engagement makes it difficult to draw comparisons with Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate in 2016. However, Steinert-Thelkeld highlighted the differences between the vice presidential candidates. “I think it’s more about the person that people are responding to as opposed to the four-year difference,” he said. “Pence is not that exciting. Pence is like the Biden now, and Kamala is like the Trump then.”

Armenta on Biden’s Immigration Enforcement Plan

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Amada Armenta spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s pledge to scale back laws requiring local police to participate in federal immigration enforcement. If elected, Biden plans to limit Section 287(g), which allows local governments to reach agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to aid in enforcing federal law. Armenta accompanied police officers on ride-alongs in Tennessee during the street-enforcement phase of 287(g). Her book about the experience noted that most of the immigrants held for deportation were detained for driving without a license. “Ending the ICE contracts would mean that millions of immigrants would be less afraid that a minor infraction (such as driving without a license or fishing without a license) would result in their deportation,” Armenta said. “ICE is not removing most people identified through 287(g) because they’re dangerous. They’re removing them because they have the authority to do so.”

Report Analyzes Asian American, Latino Votes in 2020 Primaries

Asian American and Latino voters in three key states — California, Virginia and Texas — had lower engagement in the 2020 primaries compared to four years before, according to a new analysis from the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, or UCLA LPPI. The report analyzed precinct-level data from 10 states in the Democratic primary’s early nominating contests through March 17, when former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive nominee, to ascertain the candidate preference of Latino and Asian American voters. The report also found:

  • Bernie Sanders did well with Latino voters in states like California, Iowa and Nevada where he had significant field operations and voter outreach.
  • Sanders won at higher rates in the high-density minority precincts he carried compared to Joe Biden.
  • Biden won the plurality of Latino votes in high-density Latino precincts in Virginia, Florida and some counties in Texas, demonstrating the malleability of the Latino vote, as well as the potential impact of voter outreach efforts at the local level.
  • In Los Angeles County and Orange County, fewer Californians in high-density Latino precincts cast ballots than in 2016. As advocacy for vote-by-mail grows amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these results highlight a need for robust education and outreach efforts surrounding election procedures.

“The time is now for campaigns to maximize the potential of America’s diverse electorate, and that starts with the Latino and Asian American vote,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director at UCLA LPPI.

Newton Recommends Highlighting Biden’s Expertise

Public policy lecturer Jim Newton wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on Joe Biden’s appeal as a presidential candidate with experience. Modern presidential candidates tend to identify either as “experts” or “authentics,” Newton said. He described candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney as experts, well-versed in political issues but sometimes coming off as stiff and removed, while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are authentics whose frankness also has an appeal. While Biden is accustomed to presenting himself as an “aw-shucks populist who appeals to working people,” Newton argued that he may be better off highlighting his expertise. “During a crisis of this magnitude, expertise is essential and authenticity seems superfluous,” he wrote. While Americans chose to vote for Trump during a time of economic prosperity, Newton predicted that the coming election will favor expertise. Emphasizing his experience on health and economic issues may help Biden beat Trump in November, Newton said.

Astor Urges Schools to Recognize Military Culture

Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor spoke to Education Dive about the importance of recognizing military culture in schools and supporting military children. If former Vice President Joe Biden is elected president in November, his wife, Jill Biden, would have a national platform to pursue her work on behalf of children from military families. Astor’s research has found that children of active-duty service members were more likely than non-military-connected peers to carry weapons to school, to drink alcohol or use other substances, and to be the victims of bullying. After working with Jill Biden on a federally funded program to improve school climate and mental health services in military-connected schools, Astor said she understood “the experiences of military kids going from place to place and worrying about their parents.” He said schools should recognize military culture to make children feel more connected and to educate their civilian peers on the contributions of the military.

Biden and Sanders Propelled by Voters of Color, Diaz Says

Sonja Diaz, founding executive director of the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, joined a KPCC Airtalk episode to discuss the results of the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries and the role of black and Latino voters. According to Diaz, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders were “propelled by voters of color,” with overwhelming support for Sanders among Latino and younger voters and support for Biden among black voters. However, she said there is “no evidence that blacks and Latinos are voting against each other.” Instead, she explained, voters respond to the campaigns that targeted and invested in them, including hiring locally, having bilingual mailers and opening field offices in predominantly Latino communities. “It’ll be black and Latino voters deciding the outcome of this Democratic contest,” she said.