Just 2 Percent of Hispanics Use the Term 'Latinx,' 40 Percent Find It Offensive: Poll

Only 2 percent of Hispanic voters refer to themselves as "Latinx," while nearly half find the term to be offensive—signaling that efforts from Democrats to reach the ethnic group with more gender-neutral language may be failing, according to a new poll.

A recent nationwide survey of Hispanic voters found that 68 percent of those polled call themselves "Hispanic," while 21 percent favor "Latino" or "Latina" to describe their ethnicity. When it comes to the term "Latinx," 40 percent said they find it bothersome or offensive to some degree, while 30 percent said they would be less likely to support a politician that used the word.

The survey was conducted using a sample of 800 Hispanic voters in late November from Bendixen & Amandi International, a Democratic firm that specializes in Latino outreach. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

"The numbers suggest that using 'Latinx' is a violation of the political Hippocratic Oath, which is to first do no electoral harm," said pollster Fernand Amandi, whose firm previously advised former President Barack Obama on Hispanic outreach, according to Politico.

"Why are we using a word that is preferred by only 2 percent, but offends as many as 40 percent of those voters we want to win?" Amandi said.

The term "Latinx" was adopted in recent years as an alternative to gendered Spanish words, in which feminine nouns typically end with the letter "a" while masculine words end in "o." The word has been embraced by gender non-conforming individuals, as well as politicians and activists who have sought to reach Hispanic voters with a more inclusive option.

However, critics of the term have argued that it's too tricky to implement non-gendered words into the Spanish language, and have noted that most Hispanic voters continue to use more traditional terms.

Virginia Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares, who is of Cuban descent, told Politico that using the word often turns Hispanic voters off and signals a sort of cultural elitism.

"By insisting on using the incorrect term 'Latinx,' progressives are engaging in a type of cultural Marxism, a recast of societal norms," he told the news outlet. "Latinos don't use the term—only upper-educated white liberals who hardly interact with the Latino community. I believe that every time they use the term 'Latinx,' they lose another Latino vote."

Ilan Stavans, who teaches Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst in Massachusetts, previously told NPR that the word is difficult to adopt because it seeks to upend the traditional structure of Spanish.

"It is very difficult to, if not impossible, to shake up the structure of a language to reflect changes in such a short period of time," Stavans said. "We don't all of a sudden decide that we're not going to use such an important feature of the romance languages."

Conservatives have frequently used to term to criticize their Democratic counterparts. President Joe Biden came under fire from former President Donald Trump during last year's presidential race for using the term, while others mocked him this past June for using the word while discussing vaccine inequality.

But while the recent survey found that just a small fraction of Hispanics prefer to use the term, 49 percent added that it makes no difference to them if "Latinx" is used in politics.

Nathalie Rayes, president and CEO of the progressive group Latino Victory Project, told Politico that when it comes to using "Latinx," Democrats ultimately "have to be inclusive and sensitive and understand that it's not one fell swoop across the Latino community."

Spanish voting Latinx
A new poll found that just 2 percent of Hispanic voters prefer the term "Latinx." Here, a sign identifies a voting station for Spanish-language voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 29, 2018. Robert Alexander/Getty Images