2023 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda
Download the 2023 Report (pdf)
Launched in 2021, the Colorado Latino Agenda (CLA) is a statewide public research initiative co-led by Voces Unidas and Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) that publishes relevant and timely in-depth reports about Latinas and Latinos in Colorado.
The Colorado Latino Policy Agenda (CLPA) is our annual, nonpartisan report designed to provide insights into the demographic makeup and views of Latino voters in Colorado on pressing policy, political, and social issues.
The 2023 CLPA is informed by a statewide poll of 1,600 Latino registered voters, which provides a representative, nonpartisan snapshot of views of the second-largest and second fastest-growing ethnic voting bloc in the state. This report summarizes the main findings and policy preferences, offering a valuable, ongoing look at the state of Latinos in Colorado at the statewide, regional, and congressional district levels.
Latino voters’ top priorities this year continue to be dominated by economic concerns, likely exacerbated by the period of severe economic challenges, including rising prices for goods and services, that played large roles in the 2022 election season. Colorado has also experienced significant increases in housing costs, with rent and home purchasing prices outpacing wages as the population growth in the state continues to outpace national averages.
Economic issues were major concerns at the federal level in last year’s survey as well, with “addressing the rising cost of living and inflation,” “the economy,” and “improving wages and income” holding the top three spots among priority issues. Latinos were hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s evident that they are still emerging from the associated economic challenges as inflation outpaces the wages and income levels of the community in 2023. A third of respondents in 2023 say they have not seen any improvement in their financial situation over the past year while another third reports their situation has gotten worse since 2022.
Those economic concerns were widely echoed at the state level, where 40% of respondents identified “addressing the cost of living” as the top concern for the Governor and State Legislature to prioritize in Colorado. Mimicking the federal priorities, this is followed by “improving wages and income” at 30%. “Addressing affordable and sustainable housing” ranked slightly higher as a priority for state policymakers than federal, with 19% of Latino voters identifying it as a top priority – yet another indicator of the importance of economic policy interventions to the Latino community.
Notably, there is overwhelming support for every policy intervention included in the survey aimed at reducing housing costs and making housing more accessible, with nearly all having above 70% support among Latino registered voters – independent of region, congressional district or political views. Recognizing the importance of placing affordable housing in areas where there is existing demand for housing, a robust 85% of Latino registered voters agree that “cities and towns should be required to build more affordable housing near jobs, schools, and public services.” There is comparatively strong support for policies reforming renters’ rights and creating legal protections to prevent unjust evictions of renters.
Addressing gun violence at the federal level is a top concern for 22% of Latino registered voters in Colorado, making gun violence a recurring priority for Latinos (30% of the sample in 2022 identified gun violence as a top concern). While the percentage was slightly lower at the state level (20%) this year, gun violence remained among the top five most important issues facing the Latino community at both the state and federal levels. The prevailing highly polarized political climate — including politicians using language that encourages discrimination and violence against immigrants — worries Latino voters as we approach the 2024 election, with 81% expressing concern about the prospect of a mass shooting that targets the Latino/immigrant community.
Moving toward election season, support for protecting reproductive health and abortion rights currently outnumbers support for banning or limiting abortion by a sizeable 4-to-1 margin at the state level; and an even greater margin (4.5-to-1) at the federal level, where it landed among the top five most important issues for Congress and the President to address. What’s more, protecting abortion rights appears to be a mobilizing force for Latino turnout, with 52% of respondents saying laws passed around the nation to limit or ban abortion make them more likely to vote in 2023. When asked to evaluate a potential abortion-related ballot measure, a solid majority of those polled (62%) reported they are likely to support making abortion rights stronger in Colorado by allowing state-funded insurance programs to cover abortion costs.
Education policy is among the top priorities for Latino registered voters at the state level, with general agreement that the state’s education system needs to improve. For example, 77% of Latino voters are concerned about the quality of education in the state and 76% are concerned that “school board members are more focused on imposing their political ideologies on young people than student achievement.” The lack of diversity in school staff and leadership is a concern for 67% of Latino voters.
Immigration policy is also projected to be an important theme of the upcoming election cycles, reflected by the increased support for immigration reforms in this year’s survey. Latino voters in Colorado continue to rank protection of immigrant rights as a top policy priority for federal officials. This year, we gauged opinions on immigration policies for the first time, a baseline that shows high support for humane and common-sense minded reforms. That includes 80% agreeing that the federal government should do more to support undocumented immigrants “who have lived, worked and paid their taxes in the U.S. most of their lives.” Latinos are also supportive of Congress passing laws that provide a path to citizenship to farmworkers (77%) and Dreamers/DACA recipients (73%). And 70% of respondents agreed that if Congress refuses to take action, President Biden should provide legal permits to allow undocumented immigrants to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
The Latino electorate has had significant influence in recent federal and state elections and continues to outpace other racial groups in growth in eligible voter population in Colorado. However, the 2023 survey reinforces findings from 2021 and 2022 that mobilization and outreach is not where it should be to see Latino voter turnout reach its full potential. According to this year’s survey, half of Latinos have not yet been contacted by anyone about registering or voting, with “friends, family and co-workers” credited for outreach to those who have.
The annual Colorado Latino Policy Agenda is designed to be of high value to community leaders and elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels. Policymakers can look to these findings to more directly engage the Latino community in policy decisions, as the research makes clear that Latinos desire to be more involved in public policy and political discussions, but often feel that their views and voices are excluded from the decision-making process. The 2023 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda offers an opportunity to explore areas of agreement and work together to design and deliver appropriate and timely policy solutions for the state’s growing Latino population.
Download the 2023 Report (pdf)
About the poll
BSP Research, a national firm with 20-plus years of helping community-based organizations research a diversifying United States, fielded a nonpartisan statewide poll of 1,600 Latino registered voters in Colorado focused on their issue priorities, policy preferences, and political values. The poll was conducted from July 1- July 27, 2023, in both English and Spanish. The margin of error was ±2.4%. The poll was designed to oversample in rural areas to provide the opportunity to compare results across four main geographical regions of the state and congressional districts, when possible. Relatively small population density across some districts led to fewer than 100 completed interviews in CD-5 , CD-6 and CD-7.
Dr. Gabriel Sanchez and Dr. Matt Barrento led the development of the survey instrument, administered the poll and analyzed the results.
This report also makes references to the 2021 and 2022 results of the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda polls conducted by BSP Research to explore potential differences or similarities in outcomes over the past years. Previous years’ reports can be found online at ColoradoLatinoPolicyAgenda.org.