Latino voters a growing but diverse electorate in Illinois, experts say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two days after the election, ballots are still being counted in Illinois and across the country. Many of those were cast by Latino voters, who some say could tip the scales for many races, including the one for president.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in Illinois has been on a steady climb since the year 2000.

Latinos made up 17.5% of the state's population in 2019, so it's a big opportunity for both political parties to reach out to Latinos in Illinois.

Jesus Solorio, chairman of the Illinois Republican Hispanic Assembly, said he knew it was a long shot, but felt it was important to give voters a choice in the race against Chuy Garcia for Congress. The 33-year-old lost big, but is confident that someday, Ilinois Latino voters will shift parties.

"Democrats should be terrified of what they are seeing on a national level, it might take a little longer in Illinois, but I know we are going to persuade more Hispanics to vote Republican," Solorio said.

On a national level, Democrats lost ground with Latino voters in Florida and Texas. Although, in Arizona and Nevada, as the votes continue to be counted, Latino voters may give Joe Biden the presidency. Political experts say what this election has shown is that Latinos are not a single electorate.

"We are talking about a heterogeneous population that that has their own electorate in terms of their immigration experience, in terms of their national origin, regional differences," said Jaime Domínguez, a political science professor at Northwestern University.

Experts say because Latinos are far from a monolithic group and they have become a huge voting block, both political parties have opportunities to reach out. As the Hispanic population in Chicago and statewide continues to grow, Solario said it's time for his community to have more than one political party to choose from in Illinois.

"We need to give voters a real choice at the ballot box, and the Republican Party has to do a better job doing outreach to Hispanic voters," Solario said.

Whether they shift to the Republican Party or stay with the Democrats, Latino voters will continue to play a big role not only in future presidential elections, but in state and local races as well.
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