||For decades, poor communities of colour have been the victim of environmental inequalities such as dumped toxic waste, proximity of pollution-producing factories, and polluted drinking water. The Environmental Justice Movement resulted from these inequalities and gives coloured communities a platform to raise attention for environmental issues. One of these communities is the Latino community. Lack of communication, economic power, and language barriers, make this community one of the biggest subjects of environmental injustice. The Latino community is the fastest growing demographic group in the United States and therefore has a large impact on future national politics.
Various studies show that, because of their cultural roots, Latinos perceive environmental issues as highly important. This has a significant impact on Latino voting behaviour. The 2008 presidential election was the first election where Latinos were regarded to have a big influence on the outcome, and hereby they were recognized as a separate and important part of the electorate. In this election, the majority of Latinos voted for the Democratic Party. California had a big influence on this election, as it had the highest number of Latinos, and the majority of these Latinos voted for the Democratic Party. Furthermore, in California, which has the highest number of environmental conflicts in the U.S., Latinos are actively involved in environmental justice organizations and grassroots communities.
This thesis analyses whether the Environmental Justice Movement had an impact on Latino voting behaviour in California in the 2008 election. It finds that there is a historical connection between Latinos and the environment on the one hand, and Latinos and the Democratic Party on the other hand. The Democratic Party’s environmental friendly policies and attention to minority groups provide reasons for this. These theoretical findings are substantiated by the analyses of environmental justice organizations and grassroots communities in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The findings indicate that Latino environmental justice organizations were actively operating in California. Moreover, Latinos tended to vote above national average for the Democratic Party in the 2008 election. As a result, this thesis provides indications that the Environmental Justice Movement affected Latino voting behaviour towards the Democratic Party in the 2008 election.