SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Two key groups made their presence felt in last night’s California primary: there were big increases in young and Latino voters throughout California who helped put Bernie Sanders over the top in the Golden State.
“One thing is we made it easier to vote in California, and the easier you make it, the more people turn out,” said Melinda Jackson, a professor of political science at San Jose State University.
Long lines to vote at a new voting center on the San Jose State campus showed just how strong and enthusiastic the young vote is in California.
“It was a very long wait. It was way longer than Disneyland. It was the longest I ever waited in line for something,” said Daniela Bustamante, who waited in line for over three hours to vote for Sanders.
“He’s a great voice for people like me. I’m a student and an immigrant. When I think of Bernie Sanders, I think of humanity and peace,” Bustamante said.
And Sanders took action against the long lines that accrued on Tuesday night, asking a federal court to issue an emergency order to keep polls open for an extra two hours as many young voters waited in line.
There were a lot of people just like Bustamante–young Latino and Latina voters–who helped Sanders win California.
“Part of the reason Latino voters are supporting Bernie is that he’s really reaching out to that community,” Jackson said. “He’s been building a grass roots effort and a real ground game reaching out to Latino voters since his last campaign. It’s a deliberate strategy and it seems to be paying off for him.”
Sanders has opened campaign offices in Latino neighborhoods in California. But 18-year-old Hugo Marquez says it goes beyond that.
“The reason why Bernie Sanders attracts us is that he understands our needs like medicare for all, immigration and racial justice,” Marquez said. Latinos are expected to compose the largest block of nonwhite eligible voters in 2020.
But there’s also diversity. Florida Latinos, made up of mostly Cuban Americans, are not expected to favor Sanders as much as Mexican Americans in California and Texas, due to past comments Sanders has made about Fidel Castro’s administration in Cuba.