Black and Latino Voters Are Actually Very Concerned About Economic Issues

Dara Lind and then Joan Walsh (largely just quoting Dara Lind) are out with pieces arguing people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are taking a pass on race issues and, oddly enough, that Hillary Clinton is actually doing better in this regard. Noticably absent from both pieces is public polling about what kinds of issues Blacks and Latinos rank as most important.

Here is Lind:

But there's a reason I say "those progressives" instead of just "progressives": because not everyone in the Democratic base shares those particular passions, or those passions alone. For other progressives — many of them black or Latino — economic inequality is important, but so is racial inequality. They're extremely concerned about racial bias in policing, and about ending mass incarceration. They're concerned about the treatment of unauthorized immigrants, and about protecting voting rights (an issue like campaign finance where progressives are worried the integrity of the political system is at stake — and where the outcome doesn't look good for them).

In case you were wondering, I did not omit any hyperlinks from that blockquote. These are apparently coming from Lind's intuition of how things are operating out there in the world. However, one has to wonder how representative Lind's sense of the country actually is.

Latinos and Immigration

Lind's main beat is immigration and she's very good at it. Which is why I was somewhat surprised to see that she missed this 2012 Gallup report titled "Hispanic Voters Put Other Issues Before Immigration." When asked to choose which issue was the most important to them among six options, here is how Latinos as a whole answered.

When given this choice, only 20% of Latinos overall rank immigration issues as the most important to them, and only 12% of Latino registered voters. Note that all of the other issues are economic issues of one sort or another.

Gallup had another report, also in 2012, that had Latinos ranking immigration even lower than this:

In 2014, the Pew Hispanic Center reached a similar conclusion as Gallup has:

Asked about a variety of pressing national priorities, 49% of Latino voters identified the economy as the most important issue facing the country, followed by health care (24%) and illegal immigration (16%). That ranking is similar to that of all U.S. voters, among whom 45% named the economy, 25% heath care and 14% illegal immigration.

In this report, not only do the economic issues of "the economy" and "health care" gobble up 3 in 4 Latino voters as the most important issues, but Latino voters turned out to be virtually indistinguishable on this question from the overall population.
Of course, one might object to asking people to literally rank their top issue, on the belief that, though immigration may not be their top issue, they still rate it very highly. But this also is not exactly right:
When given the freedom to just say flat out what issues are and are not extremely important to them, only 1/3rd of registered Latino voters say immigration is extremely important to them, which is significantly fewer than those saying education, jobs, and health care are extremely important to them.
For Blacks, I had a considerably harder time finding recent polls of this sort. It seems a lot of people were curious about the degree to which Latinos were really concerned about immigration, but not so curious about how Blacks rank issues.
Nonetheless, Pew has intermittently produced massive surveys of Black opinion. Here are results similar to the above for their 2007 survey:
Just as with whites and Hispanics, "lack of good jobs" is the biggest issue.
In 2010, a similar question was posed, and a similar answer was given:
Not Surprising
Although the peculiar economics of the internet race beat can occasionally lead people to think otherwise, it should come as no surprise that Blacks and Latinos are extremely concerned about jobs, health care, education, and other economic issues. Under the Supplemental Poverty Metric, 25% of Blacks are in poverty and another 23% are near poverty. Under the same metric, 26% of Latinos are in poverty, and another 28% are near poverty. Put another way: around half of Latinos and Blacks are below 1.5x the Supplemental poverty line. It doesn't take a genius to predict that such a state of being might lead these populations to heavily prioritize economic issues.
None of this is to say that things like immigration and police abuse and the like aren't important issues. Of course, they are. It's also not to say that these issues aren't important at some level to Latinos and Blacks. I have no doubt that they are (indeed even white liberals seem pretty interested in them). But to say that they are more important to these populations than economic issues is to deny the reality poll after poll consistently reveals.