Unaffiliated voters, Latinos played key role in outcome of 2022 midterm election

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Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 20:51:57-05

DENVER — Initial demographic data is showing who decided to return a ballot in the 2022 midterm election and which candidates and causes they supported.

While ballots are still being counted in some counties, it appears overall voter turnout was slightly down compared to the 2018 midterm election. The data also shows that women and voters age 18-24 turned out in lower numbers compared to the previous midterms.

“2018 was a reaction to the Trump presidency, certainly. We came on the heels of the women's movement, which brought a lot of female candidates, but also a lot of women out to vote. And so that's probably where we're seeing some of those drops,” said Robert Preuhs, chair of the political science department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Preuhs partially attributes the lower turnout among some demographics to voter fatigue. Data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shows that the turnout among unaffiliated voters was up by nearly 130,000.

“So, unaffiliated voters are really going to shape up to be the determinant of Colorado politics and elections going forward,” Preuhs said.

However, it is important to note that people in the state registering as unaffiliated increased by nearly 37% compared to 2018, while Republican registrations dropped by 5% and Democratic registrations increased by 2%.

“It's clear that while these unaffiliated voters are technically not registering as Democrats, they're certainly voting with them,” Preuhs said.

The other demographic that played a key role in the outcome of the 2022 elections was Latino voters in the state.

A nonpartisan exit poll by the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda found that this demographic voted two to one in favor of Democratic candidates and three to one in favor of ballot measures dealing with social issues like affordable housing and free lunches for public school students.

“We could credit Latino voters in Colorado for really strengthening Democrats stronghold onto the state as we have seen in this past election,” said Jesse Acevedo, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver.

Acevedo believes voter trends for Latinos this election better reflects national trends, with the demographic swinging more Democratic overall than what is reflected in states like Florida.

One of the races both Preuhs and Acevedo believe Latinos played a key role in was Congressional District 8, where Republican state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer was strongly favored to win but conceded the election to Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo.

“I think the story of Congressional District 8 in this election really is that that Latino vote is probably the pivotal vote,” Preuhs said.

Acevedo also believes that part of the reason polls were off in the state about which candidates would win was because of the under-polling of this demographic. He believes some of the biggest polls did not represent the Latino population very well and relied more on higher income, English speaking Latinos.

“I think this speaks to the difficulty and the challenges of reaching Latino voters in polls,” Acevedo said. “These are tougher to poll younger people, tougher to poll people that work long hours.”

This election, while Democratic candidates focused on social issues, Republicans focused on crime, inflation and cost of living overall.

While Acevedo believes that the kitchen table issues matter to Latinos, he wonders if the Republican message fell flat with these voters.

“I think Latino voters are just like any other voters. They want to hear solutions. And was that lacking for the Republican side?” he said.

In the end, both Acevedo and Preuhs say unaffiliated voters and Latino voters should not be taken for granted by future candidates, and no political party should assume that these demographics will sway their way in the next election without putting in work.