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“The road to winning the Democratic primary goes through the Latino community, and candidates can’t afford to take us for granted any longer,” said Latino Victory Fund Interim President Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Latino voters will play a pivotal role in determining who will be the Democratic nominee —  especially in the early states — but only if campaigns invest early in Latino voter outreach and present bold and concrete policy solutions that will benefit our community.”

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2020 Dem primary calendar may boost Hispanic voter clout | AP

By Will Weissert

How to pronounce Beto O’Rourke’s first name — “Is it BET-oh or BAY-toe?” — is debated nearly everywhere the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful goes in Iowa.

But Rich Salas doesn’t hesitate. “BET-oh,” the chief diversity officer at Des Moines University says correctly while introducing O’Rourke at a recent gathering of an Asian and Latino political action committee. “What a really great name.”

Salas notes that O’Rourke “speaks really good Spanish, better than I do,” before leading chants of “Viva Beto!”

It’s a rallying cry that may not resonate in Iowa, home to the nation’s first presidential nominating contest, but could pay dividends faster than in previous years thanks to a primary calendar that will see the two states with the largest Hispanic populations go to the polls earlier than usual.

Hispanics make up just 6% of the population in Iowa, which holds caucuses Feb. 3, and barely half that percentage in New Hampshire, which goes next. But then comes Nevada, where almost 30% of people are Hispanic. And, just 10 days later this cycle, California and Texas — home to 13-plus million eligible Hispanic voters, nearly half of all such voters nationwide, according to the Pew Research Center — vote on “Super Tuesday.”

That means candidates who can win consistent Hispanic support could potentially secure a viable — if narrow — path of survival through the primary’s frantic opening weeks, as the 23-candidate field winnows. A total of 4,051 Democratic delegates are up for grabs. Nearly 500 of those will be in California and 260-plus in Texas. Both allocate delegates proportionately, though, meaning even the winners likely have to share their hauls — and potentially providing more lifelines for any candidate who can mobilize Hispanics even if they don’t finish first.

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