The cost of living, wages, and overall economic issues remain as the top concerns for Latino voters across Colorado, according to a new survey released Wednesday.
Most of the 1,600 voters polled said their economic situation had not changed in the last year. For the rest, the results were split between those who said their finances had improved, and those who said they have gotten worse.
Seventy- eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “politicians talk about creating more affordable housing, but I have not seen any real change in access to affordable housing where I live,” according to the report.
“It is clear that the challenges facing Latinos in Colorado when it comes to jobs, housing, and the economy are severe and in need of significant action from officials at all levels — local, state, and the federal,” said Dr. Gabriel Sanchez with BSP Research who led the effort to conduct the poll.
The survey was funded by Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) partnered with Voces Unidas de las Montañas and their respective political action funds, which tend to support liberal issues. The groups said the poll is intended to help policymakers identify the top concerns they should be working on..
Of the respondents, 49 percent said the Democratic party most aligned with their values, 22 percent said the Republican party and 28 percent neither party shares their values.
Julietta Dasilva lives in Denver and did not participate in the survey, but said she shares many of the concerns voiced in it “one hundred percent.”
Dasilva, who’s 30 years old and identifies as Latina, works as a community engagement manager at the Museo de las Americas in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District. She said it’s no surprise economic factors are the top issue for so many people; she sees the direct impact in her own work.
“Do the people I want to reach out to even have the mental capacity to be able to make it to the events that I'm throwing because they're worried about making it from work, having to commute through public transportation, having to pay their bills, having affordability, all of the above,” she said.
Another top issue for Latinos in the survey was abortion rights, at both the state and federal level. A little more than half of the respondents said laws to limit access to abortion made them more likely to vote in 2024. Sixty-two percent also said they would be likely to support allowing state-funded insurance programs in Colorado to cover abortion costs.
Sanchez with BSP Research said it wasn’t too long ago that abortion access would not have been a key priority for Latino voters. “But things have changed significantly, largely as a result of Supreme Court action around abortion access.” He also expects it to be a mobilizing factor in the election next year.
Gun violence was also a top five issue, especially concerns about a mass shooting or violence specifically targeted at the Latino community. It’s something Dasilva said she personally worries about, both when she’s working alone, and during busy events.
“I think about it for First Fridays. I don't know if I think about it particularly towards the Latino community because I know it's just a symptom of what's happening in the United States right now,” she said.
According to the survey, 78 percent of people believe that politicians use language that divides people and encourages discrimination and violence specifically towards immigrants. 67 percent worry that politicians and candidates may refuse to accept the results of an election when they lose.”
While Colorado is increasingly blue politically, with Democrats in control of the state government, two of the state’s congressional races are expected to be highly competitive next year. One of those is the newly created 8th Congressional District, which has the highest percentage of Latino residents in the state and is currently represented by Colorado’s first Latina in Congress. The other is the 3rd Congressional District, where a quarter of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
The survey didn’t show a material difference between urban and rural voters in terms of the issues they’re concerned about. However on the Western Slope health care costs registered as an especially acute issue.
“Lowering healthcare costs is a higher priority (here) than it is for any other region,” said Alex Sanchez, the head of Voces Unidas de las Montañas, which is based in the Roaring Fork Valley. “Folks have fewer providers in rural areas of the state, (so) not only is their access impacted, but the cost when you're able to see a provider is significantly higher.”
CPR’s Stephanie Rivera contributed to this story.
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