Analysis 08-12-2016


Hispanic Voters 2016

For the last few elections, the Hispanic voter has been the Holy Grail of the electorate. While the Democratic Party has traditionally been the recipient of the Hispanic vote, the GOP has strived to increase the number of Hispanic voters who regularly vote Republican.

How important are Hispanics to both parties? The Hispanic eligible voter block is projected to be 40% higher in 2016 than in 2008.

On the downside, about half of Hispanic voters reside in states that are not battleground states – California and Texas. Since Texas is safely Republican and California is safely Democratic, Hispanics aren’t seen as critical as the Jewish vote, which is critical in several battleground states that will decide the election in 2016.

Despite that, in 2012, a postmortem by the GOP said that in order to win, the Republican Party, must reach out to minorities, especially Hispanics. However, recent surveys show that the GOP effort hasn’t been that successful.

Do Hispanics Want Trump or Clinton?

A Pew Research Center poll taken a month ago shows Hillary Clinton currently has a 66%-24% advantage over Donald Trump among Hispanic registered voters. In a three-way test, including Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, 58% of Latino voters support Clinton, 20% support Trump and 13% back Johnson.

This sounds bad, but is in line with previous presidential elections. Four years ago, Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney among Hispanics was comparable to Clinton’s lead over Trump today (69%-21%). And in the summer of 2008, Obama led John McCain 66%-23% among Hispanic voters.

According to national exit polls conducted after the 2012 election, Obama garnered 71% of the Hispanic vote while 27% voted for Romney. Obama’s national vote share among Hispanics was the highest for a Democratic candidate since 1996, according to an analysis of the exit polls by Pew Research Center.

There is a clear age difference, with younger Hispanic voters preferring the Democratic candidate. Among millennials (18 to 35 year olds), Clinton leads 71%-19%. Her advantage is smaller (65%-26%) among older Hispanics (those 36 and older).

Clinton’s lead is somewhat larger among Hispanic women than it is among Hispanic men. Among Hispanic women, 71% say they support Clinton while 19% say they support Trump. By contrast, among Hispanic men, 61% support Clinton and 30% support Trump.

Although these numbers are definitely more pro-Clinton, they generally reflect voters in general – young voters and women favoring Clinton more than older voters and men. In that regard, the Hispanic vote mirrors the general electorate more than many analysts admit.

This may be because as Hispanics spend more time in the US, they start voting and acting more like other Americans. And, this can be seen in Pew polling of Spanish speaking Hispanics, who are more likely first generation Hispanics, and comparing that to English speaking Hispanics who were more likely to be born in the US.

Clinton holds an 80%-11% lead among Hispanic voters who are bilingual or Spanish-dominant (those who are more proficient in Spanish than English) – these voters make up about 57% of all Latino registered voters. However, among the smaller group of Hispanic voters (43%) who are English-dominant – those who are more proficient in English than Spanish – just 48% back Clinton (41% would vote for Trump).

What this means is that the Democrats can rely upon the Hispanic vote now. But that is important only if Hispanics come out to vote.

In the past, Hispanics have been consistently underrepresented in the electorate, compared with their share of eligible voters or the overall population. In the Pew survey, only about half of all Hispanics (49%) say they are “absolutely certain” they are registered to vote. That compares with 69% of blacks and 80% of whites.

There are several reasons why the share of Hispanics who are registered to vote is lower than it is among blacks or whites. Many Hispanic immigrants may be in the U.S. legally but have not yet obtained U.S. citizenship. Many others are in the country as illegal immigrants. Both groups are not eligible to vote, yet they make up about 30% of all Hispanic adults.

Again, this indicates the ability of American culture to change the mindset those who become Americans and regular voters. Clinton holds an overwhelming (87%-7%) advantage over Trump among Hispanic adults who say they are not certain they are registered to vote.

This seems to indicate that as Hispanics meld into American culture, they will be less of a separate voting block – just as Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans did in previous decades.

The Future of Hispanic Voters

Not only is the Hispanic voter block the fastest growing one, it is starting to become a major portion of the young vote. According to a new Pew analysis of government data, Hispanic Americans who turn 18 are the primary source of new eligible voters as some 803,000 young Hispanic Americans turn 18 each year.

The Hispanic electorate is projected to reach 27.3 million eligible voters in 2016, up from 19.5 million in 2008. Most of this growth has come from Hispanic-American citizens entering adulthood. Between 2008 and 2016, a projected 6 million Hispanic-American citizens will have turned 18 and become eligible to vote.

This is greater than the number of Hispanics who immigrated and then have become American citizens. From 2008 to 2016, some 2.2 million foreign-born Hispanics are projected to have naturalized, becoming U.S. citizens and thus eligible to vote, according to Pew Research Center.

On the face of it, it appears that there will be a growing number of Democratic voters in the future. However, there are a couple of factors that must be noted.

As we noted, Hispanics are less likely to vote. As the number of eligible Hispanic voters has reached new highs with each election, so has the number of Hispanic non-voters. In 2008, a then-record 9.8 million eligible Hispanic voters did not vote. That number rose to 12.1 million in 2012, despite record turnout of Hispanic voters.

As a result, the Hispanic voter turnout rate declined from 49.9% in 2008 to 48% in 2012, reflecting slower growth in the number of Hispanic voters who voted, compared with the number of eligible Hispanic voters. Some of that is probably due to the fact that young voters are less likely to vote and a large portion of Hispanic voters are young.

Given this low turnout and the fact that many Hispanic voters reside in politically safe states, the Hispanic vote is not as critical as some demographic groups.

The Evolving Hispanic Voter

It’s also important to realize that Hispanic voters are evolving as they integrate into American society.

Today, the Hispanic-American is better educated than in the past. The Hispanic-American community has seen gains in both the share with some college education and those with at least a bachelor’s degree. As a result, Hispanic voters will have higher levels of education in 2016 than in any recent presidential election year. 48% of Hispanic voters ages 18 and older will have had at least some college education. 18% will have a bachelor’s degree or more.   Only 20% will not have completed high school.

Compare the current educational levels to the 2000 election. Then, 36% of Hispanic voters had completed at least some college. 11% had a bachelor’s degree and 32% did not finish high school.

Keep in mind that this educational improvement is behind other groups in America. In 2016, 63% of white voters will have attended at least some college, compared with 73% of Asian voters and 53% of black voters.

So, how do all of these factors impact the 2016 election?

First, remember that Hispanics aren’t a monolithic block. There are young and old Hispanics. There are Cuban Hispanics, Puerto Rican Hispanics, and Mexican Hispanics, who have differing views. There are first generation Hispanics and second generation (or more) Hispanic Americans who have widely differing views.

The result is that they will not vote in a block as Blacks did for Obama.

Admittedly, Clinton will win the Hispanic vote. But, the question is how many will come out and vote, who will come out to vote, and where they will be voting.

The key will be a shift of a small percentage of Hispanics in a few key states. And, we won’t know how they will break until November.




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PolicyWatch 2671

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PolicyWatch 2669

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PolicyWatch 2670

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