2020 will be the year of the Hispanic voter

2020 will be the year of the Hispanic voter
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If 2016 was the so-called “forgotten man” election and 2018 was the “year of the woman,” then 2020 will be the year of the Hispanic voter.

2020 will mark the first time that Hispanics will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate, accounting for just over 13 percent of eligible voters — slightly more than African Americans. 

In an analysis of the federal data, the Pew Research Center said that there are a record 32 million Latinos eligible to vote in 2020. That is an increase from 27.3 million in 2016.

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Hispanics are the youngest of the major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. At 28 years, the median age of Hispanics is nearly a full decade younger than that of the U.S. overall (37 years). 

Millennials made up almost half (44 percent) of the Hispanic electorate in 2016. Hispanic millennials will likely continue to drive growth of the Hispanic electorate, given that the median age of U.S.-born Hispanics is only 19. In addition, in any given year, more than 800,000 young Hispanics turn 18.

Unidos US, a non-partisan Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, projects that in five years Hispanics will account for about 20 percent of the U.S. workforce and over 30 percent by 2050.

The National Center for Education Statistics projects that by 2023, nearly one-third of all students will be Latino. In three states – California, New Mexico and Texas – Latinos already account for more than half of all students.

Hispanics are also an integral part of America’s economy. If the U.S. Latino GDP were considered an economy of its own, it would be a G-7 country and would be the seventh-largest in the world in, just behind France and ahead of India.

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All of this explains why it is critical for political campaigns to reach out to Latinos and speak to them authentically about the issues they care about. This should be easy since they are the same issues all Americans care about — the economy, jobs, health care, education, climate change and immigration. 

The Democratic candidates have their work cut out for them. While most Latinos do not support President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE, he likes to tout the record-low unemployment rate among Latinos.

The unemployment rate is great, but the economic situation for many Latinos is not. If you must hold down two or three jobs simply to make ends meet, that is not an economy that is working for you. If you are afraid of losing your health care, as many Latinos are since Trump took office vowing to get rid of ObamaCare, you do not have peace of mind. And if you are an immigrant living in a mixed-status household or have simply been at the receiving end of xenophobic, racist rhetoric normalized by Trump, you are not feeling secure in your own country.   

This is what Democrats must focus on. They must offer a better path forward that gives Latinos a robust economic future and an optimistic outlook that celebrates their contributions.

America would collapse tomorrow if Latino workers and Latino talent suddenly disappeared. Our community is so intertwined with this magnificent country that when the Latino community does well, so does the nation. 2020 candidates must understand this reality.

Hispanics will be the majority minority voters in 2020, and they cannot be taken for granted. Candidates must engage Hispanic voters now, not just a month before the election. They must make a robust argument as to why their candidacy is worthy of their vote. A solely anti-Trump agenda will not be enough to win over most Latinos.  

Candidates must speak to Latino aspirations, hopes and dreams, not just their fears. They believe this country, their country, is better with them in it. The winning Democratic candidate will too.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.