06 June, 2016
Democratic Party presidential candidates are working to gain the support of Hispanic voters before the primary election in California on Tuesday.
About one-third of adults in California are Hispanic. The campaigns of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been competing for their support.
Volunteers have been working to convince Hispanics to register to vote. They also have been calling registered Democrats on the phone.
The volunteers say they do not agree with many statements made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He has said Mexico is sending criminals into the United States.
Trump says he is only criticizing those who do not obey the law. He notes some Hispanics support him. Maria Aguila, who lives near San Francisco, is one of his supporters. She says she does so "because we need change. We need real change this time."
Maria Alvarado Marquez is a Democrat. She supports and is a volunteer worker for Hillary Clinton. She lives near Los Angeles. She says she is insulted by Trump's statements. She says Muslims and people coming from Latin America to the U.S. are looking for a better life.
"These are all people who want freedom -- religious freedom, economic freedoms," she said. She says both groups have been insulted by Trump. She says this is "probably the most important election of my life."
Proposed wall is seen as a dividing issue
Public opinion studies show that most Hispanics are worried about Trump's promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Stephanie Sandoval is a teacher. She says learning about her students' families has changed some of her political beliefs.
"I've been kind of moderate, sometimes conservative on some issues, but seeing how those issues affect some people, you know, for example with Donald Trump and building the wall ..."
Her concerns caused her to hold a campaign sign in public. It is the first time she has become politically active.
Hispanic age groups support different Democratic candidates
Hillary Clinton has more support among Hispanics than Bernie Sanders. But younger Hispanics support Sanders in much greater numbers than they support Clinton.
Public opinion studies show Hispanics are most worried about economic issues and education. Political messages from both candidates talk about those issues.
But Republican Donald Trump appears to be the strongest motivator for Hispanics to vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
Hispanics in neighboring states
Raphael Sonenshein is with the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, Los Angeles. He says if many Hispanics vote in the South and Southwest, they could have an effect on the election.
He said, "It could matter, not in California, which is just going to go Democratic no matter what, but in Arizona (and) in Florida, which is one of the most competitive states in the country, which not only has Cuban-Americans, but a large number of people who have moved from Puerto Rico in this last year."
He says large numbers of Hispanic voters could affect state and congressional races in places like Arizona, which is almost one-third Hispanic.
I'm Mario Ritter.
VOA Correspondent Mike O'Sullivan reported this story from Los Angeles. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
convince -- v. to persuade someone to believe firmly in something
motivator – n. a person or a reason that causes people to do something