The Democratic Primary has been the biggest headline in the media for a little more than a week, as the election ritual took off in Iowa resulting in a race led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, followed closely by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
However, between Iowa and New Hampshire the priorities of the electorate have remained to choose a candidate who aligns with the progressive sentiment of the Democratic Party molded to face Donald Trump next November.
In Nevada, these priorities are changing radically.
In a state with a majority population of color, the most important thing for voters is neither Trump’s antagonism nor immigration, as many might believe, but climate change and health care, in that order.
As explained by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Nevada Conservation League, climate change is the top priority for voters in the southwestern state of Nevada. That’s especially true among Latinx voters, a growing political force in the state.
In a survey of 859 likely Democratic caucus-goers, 86% of the respondents said that “climate change and the environment are very important or the most important issue” when choosing their candidates.
For the Latinx, climate change was “the most important issue,” well above universal healthcare and immigration reform.
These figures coincide with those published by FiveThirtyEight, which show Senator Bernie Sanders as the favorite among Latinx voters, especially the youngest, and who has the highest rating from Greenpeace.
Thanks to the coalition formed between Sanders and his ward, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with the proposal of a Green New Deal, it is not surprising that a large part of the population of color feels identified with the candidate’s political proposal.
“Latinx communities are hit first and hardest by climate, so it’s not surprising to see that climate change is the most important issue for Nevada Latinx voters in deciding who to support for president,” Rudy Zamora, program director of Chispa Nevada, an organizing program of LCV, said in a statement shared with Earther. “If 2020 candidates want to win the Latinx vote in Nevada, they must understand the relationship that our communities have with our environment and make it a priority to address climate injustices.”
This is also true at the national level, where communities of color are more exposed to the effects of pollution than their white counterparts, especially because of the employment disparity and the profound difference in opportunity in the country.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, about 2.2 million Hispanics suffer from asthma in the country, with Puerto Ricans the most affected community. Also, Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the emergency department for respiratory problems, compared to non-Hispanic whites.
In fact, according to the department’s figures, Hispanic children are twice as likely to die from asthma as non-Hispanic whites.
This is, in short, other evidence that debunks the myth of the Hispanic voter whose priority on the ballot is immigration. After all, we are as diverse a community as any other, and painting our needs with a single palette is dangerously irresponsible.