A half hour before Sandoval expressed his frustration, activists less than two miles down the road in Denver rallied to mobilize the Latino vote. A series of speakers fired up the canvassers to knock on doors, one of three such events across the state that day targeting voters, like Sandoval, who need some encouragement.
"Every door that you're knocking, every person that you're talking to today, this is about reminding that we do have the power," Rocio Sáenz, a Mi Familia Vota board member, said. "And when we go out in 17 days, on Nov. 4, we actually are voting for our families, we're voting for our community, and we're voting for the future that we want. And we are going to be the ones dictating what future we want."
With Latinos comprising more than 14 percent of the state's eligible voters—U.S. citizens 18 and older—their ballots matter in Colorado, where Udall is narrowly trailing his GOP opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, in several recently released polls. About 55 percent of Latinos plan to vote for Udall, 14 percent for Gardner, and 30 percent haven't definitively decided on a candidate, according to a Oct. 14 Latino Decisions and NCLR Action Fund poll.
Latino advocates for both parties are swarming the state, while other ostensibly nonpartisan organizations are targeting voter turnout. Several groups have joined to form the Colorado Immigration Voter Accountability Project, which has spent more than 5,200 hours canvassing counties across the state since the beginning of September, according to Ben Hanna, the national political field director for the Center for Community Change Action.
The community has identified other top priorities, including job creation, education, and health care. But immigration is the gateway issue that filters candidates who would best represent Latino interests, Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota executive director, said in a phone interview last month.
This means that actions—or in this case, inaction—can have consequences.
"There is no question that the failure of the president to keep his promise yet again is demobilizing Latino voters," said Gary Segura, cofounder of Latino Decisions, a polling and research firm. "There's just no question in that. The enthusiasm rate has dropped. People are frustrated—actually, they're more than frustrated. They're angry."
Segura has no doubt that a number of potential Latino votes for Democrats will be left on the table as a consequence of the president's delay. It doesn't mean Latinos are voting for Republicans. And it doesn't mean there's a massive boycott (though at least one group, Presente Action, is calling for Latinos to leave the Senate box unchecked in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina). Rather, these votes left uncast nationwide can be chocked up to a lack of enthusiasm.