Empowerment: Turning around the Latino turnout
22nd Oct 2020
It is estimated by the U.S. Census that every 30 seconds, a Latino in the U.S. turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. Indeed, for the first time, Latinos will be the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority in a U.S. presidential election.
Is this the election that finally sets the standard that no campaign or candidate can succeed without the Latino vote?
A record 32 million Latinos are eligible to vote, accounting for 13.3% of all eligible voters in the United States. But as always, turnout will be key to Latino impact on elections.
For example, there were 992,000 Hispanic eligible voters in Arizona in 2016, the last presidential election. However, less than half of eligible Hispanic voters in Arizona voted in 2016, meaning nearly 500,000 eligible Latinos didn’t cast a ballot.
Trump won Arizona by 3.5 percentage points (Trump 48.08% / Clinton 44.58%)
That translates into a margin of victory of 91,234 votes.
That means if 18% or so more eligible Latinos had actually voted, with Latinos largely voting Democratic, the result could have been very different for Arizona. And if Latinos voters had showed up in similar greater percentages across the country in 2016, the overall result could have been very different, as well.
In 2016, a record 27.3 million Latinos were eligible to vote in U.S. Yet, according to the U.S. Census, the national Latino turnout among eligible Latino voters was less than 48% – slightly less than 2012 and nearly 2.5 percentage points less than 2008.
In other words, we’re going the wrong direction for voter participation, even as our numbers of eligible voters grow by leaps and bounds as young Latinos – almost all of whom are U.S. citizens – go through the maturation process and turn of voting age.
Today, there are an estimated 32 million eligible Latino voters – again a record, with “eligible” meaning U.S. citizen of age 18 or older in November. But as Pew Research Center points out, the number of Hispanic eligible voters who did not vote has exceeded the number of those who did vote in every presidential election since 1996.
We’re hoping and expecting that to change in the 2020 presidential election – not just in Arizona, but in New Mexico and Nevada. There seems to be some momentum, judging by the 2018 midterms.
In Arizona, 345,000 Latinos voted in 2018 midterm election, which is more than double the 2014 midterm turnout of 173,000.
Midterm turnout grew across the board in Arizona, one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. But while non-Hispanic turnout grew by 149%, young Hispanic voter turnout increased by 232%, according to a Univision study.
In the 2020 election, Latinos make up an estimated 23.6% of eligible voters in Arizona. That’s about 1.18 million potential voters. The 2020 general election will demonstrate whether the midterm momentum continues and measure the effectiveness of Latino voter registration campaigns.
New Mexico has experienced an uptick in Latino voters. There were an estimated 591,000 Hispanic eligible voters in 2016. Today, Hispanic voters number about 645,000 potential voters, representing 42.8% of eligible voters in New Mexico.
Nearly half of all new registered voters in New Mexico were Hispanic, according to the Univision study. Meanwhile, turnout among Hispanic voters in New Mexico increased 1.5 times as much as non-Hispanic voters between 2014 and 2018.
In Nevada, there was a 57% turnout among eligible Latino voters in 2016. Latinos number about 407,000 eligible voters in Nevada, or 19.7% of potential voters.