Of focus groups among Latino residents and interviews with elected officials found the same issues of concern. Immigrant rights fell in the middle of the list of issues, while transit improvements and climate change were near the bottom.
Full toplines, crosstabs, slides, and quotes from elected officials and focus group respondents are available here.
A key part of the research project was exploring ways to boost civic engagement among Latino residents including activities such as participation in campaigns and public meetings, and contacting elected officials. A quarter or less report participating in each of these activities in the last year. Currently, civic engagement is higher among English speaking only households, those with higher education levels, and those born on the US mainland.
“We are thrilled to unveil this informative landscape of Latinos in Massachusetts, the most expansive of its kind, that presents a snapshot of our community’s priorities, such as economic development including affordability, jobs, and education, among others,” says Amplify Latinx CEO & President Eneida Román. “Amplify’s commitment to highlighting this data presents an opportunity for our coalition to increase Latino civic engagement by leading advocacy efforts statewide. Our ongoing research projects give us the necessary tools to advocate for transformative initiatives that drive pathways for economic prosperity for all residents and business owners of our great Commonwealth.”
Other results of activities reported include: posting about political views on social media was most common (26%), followed by attending government meetings (23%) and displaying a campaign sign, button, or bumper sticker (22%). One of the least frequent activities was contacting an elected official (17%). Out of all eight activities, Latino residents took part in an average of 1.43 in the last year. Activity levels decreased among residents who only spoke Spanish, lived outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico and those without a college degree. The highest engagement was from Latino residents who identified as LGBTQ+.
The focus groups found that for many, a key hurdle was the sense that their voices were not heard or represented in the political process and that they were disappointed in past political outcomes. Even so, 73% think their community could make “a lot” or “some” difference if they pushed for change.
When polled about voting, there was considerable optimism, with 82% saying they agree voting “has a real impact on the way decisions are made” (52% strongly agree). The poll suggests boosting registration rates will require both addressing structural barriers to registering and overcoming disaffection and distrust of the political system among potential voters. Those who could potentially register but have not done so cited a range of barriers including a lack of time and little interest or faith in the political system.
About three-quarters (76%) said electing more Latinos to office was somewhat or very important. In a series of focus groups with residents and interviews with elected officials, the issue of representation came up frequently as essential to boosting civic engagement among Latino voters. Some described voting exclusively to support Latino candidates. One elected official said Latino residents would sometimes reach out to their office even if they were not their constituents.
When it comes to specific policy proposals, over three-quarters (78%) of Latino residents support “making buses and trains free to ride in Massachusetts.” A majority of Latino residents support limiting rent increases (79%), helping families pay for childcare (87%), and expanding programs that support small businesses to access funds (90%).
Among other major findings:
• Abortion is not the most salient issue to most respondents, falling below many other issues in terms of priorities for state leaders. Even so, 59% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 34% say it should be illegal. Support is highest among college degree holders, (71%), people under 30 (67%), Democrats (64%), and those who are registered to vote (65%). Its lower position on the priority list suggests it’s less salient than other issues in Massachusetts, where abortion rights are more secure than elsewhere.
• Elizabeth Warren is the most commonly known Massachusetts politician while Katherine Clark is the least well known of those included in the poll. Those who were familiar with these officials were also more civically engaged and more likely to contact their public officials. Registered voters and the senior population were more likely to have heard of each of the elected officials.
• More respondents say they prefer Hispanic, Latino, or refer to their place or country of origin to describe themselves. Just 5% identified with Latinx. On this and on many other items, there were considerable differences by nationality / ancestry.
• Overall, 10% identify as LGBTQ+. Among younger Latinos (those under 30) the figure is 19%. This echoes national surveys which have suggested younger Latinos identify as LGBTQ+ at higher rates than others, a figure which has grown in recent years.
“This effort is absolutely unique in scope and scale,” said Steve Koczela, “President of The MassINC Polling Group, which oversaw the poll. “The survey includes a very large sample size of Latino respondents in Massachusetts and sits alongside resident focus groups and elected official interviews.”
Amplify Latinx is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit formed in 2018 by The Latina Circle, Inc. that serves as a non-partisan, collaborative convener advancing Latino leadership representation, economic prosperity, and civic engagement.
The MassINC Polling Group is a nonpartisan public opinion research firm serving public, private, and social-sector clients. MPG elevates the public’s voice with cutting edge methods and rigorous analysis. Based in Boston, MPG serves a nationwide client base.