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Latest news, analysis and information from the 2024 presidential, state, and local elections by the KVPR newsroom and news partners.

Latino voters in the Central Valley could play a critical role in upcoming election, new survey finds

Voters arrive at the Fresno County Clerk's Office in downtown Fresno, Calif., to cast their vote.
Esther Quintanilla
Voters arrive at the Fresno County Clerk's Office in downtown Fresno, Calif., to cast their vote.

FRESNO, Calif. – With the November U.S. elections quickly approaching, polls are starting to examine which groups could potentially decide political seats at the local, state and federal levels.

One group in particular – Latinos – have much to say. According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 36.2 million Latinos are eligible federally to vote this year, up from 32.3 million in 2020. In California alone, there are more than 8.5 million Latinos who are eligible to vote.

The Latino Community Foundation, the largest Latino serving non-profit organization in the country, released a new survey earlier this month that shows the strength of the Latino vote.

The organization polled 1,200 voters in California, Nevada and Arizona and found a majority of Latinos plan to cast their ballots. However, it also found Latinos do not feel well informed about both major candidates’ policy agendas.

When asked about their presidential candidate choice for 2024, the survey found President Joe Biden continues to hold a strong lead among Latinos over former president Donald Trump across all three states.

The poll also found that the top concerns among Latinos are the rising costs of living, jobs and the economy, and housing – which are all issues that resonate deeply in the Valley. Residents in the city of Delano, for example, recently filed a petition to place a rent control measure on the local ballot, a first for the region.

But voters will have a chance to pick their leaders and issues in November. Democrats and Republicans in the Valley are also facing off in tight races, such as in Districts 13 and 22 in Merced and Kern counties. Both districts have high Latino populations.

The Central Valley is home to more than 2 million Latinos.

“As we head into the next election, [the Central Valley] – I'm convinced – will decide the next generation of this country,” says Christian Arana, the vice president of civic power and policy at the foundation.

A survey from the Public Policy Institute of California also found issues like the economy, housing and immigration are a top concern among a majority of voters. The survey found a solid majority of California voters believe the country is going “in the wrong direction.”

The Latino Community Foundation poll also found other priorities for Latino voters in particular include gun violence, rising health care costs, abortion and reproductive rights. Additionally, frustrations with inflation and corporate greed are a potential reason why younger, more progressive voters are inspired to cast their ballots.

“Pick any gas station along Highway 99,” Arana says. “Go to any supermarket in Fresno. Try buying a home in Bakersfield [right] now. It is incredibly tough for our community.”

Esther Quintanilla reports on communities across Central California, covering a variety of stories surrounding the rich cultures in the Valley, farmworker issues, healthcare, and much more. She previously reported through the Central Valley News Collaborative, a partnership between the Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.