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The Latino vote or the Hispanic vote refers to the voting trends during elections in the United States by eligible voters of Latino or Hispanic background. This phrase is usually mentioned by the media as a way to label voters of this ethnicity, and to opine that this demographic group could potentially tilt the outcome of an election, and how candidates have developed messaging strategies to this ethnic group.
A study by the Center for Immigration Studies projected that in November 2012 Hispanics would comprise 17.2 percent of the total U.S. population, 15 percent of adults, 11.2 percent of adult citizens, and 8.9 percent of actual voters. By comparison, the report found that in 2012, non-Hispanic whites are expected to be 73.4 percent of the national vote and non-Hispanic blacks are expected to be 12.2 percent. The report noted that by weight "eight percentage points of the Hispanic vote nationally equals slightly less than one percentage point of the non-Hispanic white vote." The study also found that the 8.9 percent Hispanic share of voters compares to veterans (12 percent of the electorate), those with family incomes above $100,000 (18 percent), seniors 65 and older (19 percent), married persons (60 percent), and those who live in owner-occupied housing (80 percent).
In terms of voter turnout, the Center for Immigration Studies projected that 52.7 percent (± 0.6) of eligible Hispanics will vote in the 2012 election, an increase from 49.9 percent in 2008 and a continuation of the past decade's long upward trend. The projected Hispanic voter participation rate of 52.7 percent compares to 66.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 65.2 percent for non-Hispanic blacks in 2008.
States with the most share of eligible Latino voters in 2016 were: New Mexico (40.4%), Texas (28.1%), California (28.0%), Arizona (21.5%), Florida (18.1%), Nevada (17.2%), Colorado (14.5%), and New York (13.8%).
Low Voting Turnout
The amount of Latinos who participate in political activities varies, but rarely exceeds half of adults. In general, Latinos participate in common civic activities, such as voting, at lower rates than non-Hispanic Whites or Blacks. Approximately 57.9 percent of U.S. citizen adult Latinos were registered to vote at the time of the 2004 election, and 47.2 percent turned out to vote. The registration and turnout rates are approximately 10 percent lower than those of non-Hispanic blacks and 18 percent lower than those of non-Hispanic whites.
To explain low voter turnout among Latinos, researchers have analyzed voter participation demographics throughout many years. Researchers have found many explanations as towards why Latinos have a low voter turn out. There are explanations that account for physical barriers such as lack of transportation. As well as systemic barriers such as, harassment, discrimination, inadequate numbers of polling booths, inconvenient placements of polling booths, and biased administration of election laws may suppress Latino access to registering and voting.
One of the biggest explanation for low Latino voter turn outs is associated with accurately measuring the Latino vote based on a general population that includes many non-citizens. The number of adult non-U.S. citizens rose from 1.9 million in 1976 to more than 8.4 million in 2000, a 350 percent increase. Thus, the share of Latino nonparticipants are overwhelmingly non-U.S. citizens.
Another explanation for low levels of Latino voter turnout stems from the relatively young age of the Latino population. For example, 40 percent of the California Latino population was under eighteen years of age in 1985.
Individuals with lower incomes vote at lower rates than people with higher incomes. In terms of income, the general argument is that individuals with higher socioeconomic status have the civic skills, the participatory attitudes, and the time and money to facilitate participation. Education is also positively related to participation and vote choice, as Latinos with a college degree and postgraduate training are more likely to vote. More than 30 percent of Hispanic adult citizens have less than a high school education, while 12 percent of non-Hispanic white adult citizens have less than a high school education. Therefore, low participation may result from low levels of knowledge about the political process that should be garnered through formal education.
Although turn out for Latinos is low, it has been noted that Latinos residing in communities with a large Latino population are more likely to turn out to vote.
Latino Vote Influences
There is a significant amount of literature dedicated to analyzing what influences Latino vote choices. One strong determinant has been found to be religion, which is believed to play a role in defining the political attitudes and behaviors of Latino voters. Latinos have long been associated with Catholicism with respect to faith and religious identity and with the Democratic Party with regard to political allegiance and identity. Although most Latinos affiliate themselves with the Democratic Party, the Latino National Political Survey, has found a consistent finding that Latinos identify themselves ideologically as moderates and conservatives. Social conservatism usually originates from religion, which oftentimes predicts Latino's opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, support for the death penalty, and support for traditional gender roles.
Political ads have also been studied to determine how they influence Latino voting behavior. In a study conducted by Abrajano, it was concluded that different political ads influence Latino vote choices depending on how assimilated individuals are to American life. For Spanish dominated Latinos, political ads that tapped into ethnic identity seemed to be the most influential. On the other hand, for assimilated Latinos, ethnic appeals did have some influence but exposure to more informative policy ads in English or Spanish had a greater impact on these voters decision to vote.
In the United States, the Latino or Hispanic vote is typically associated with immigration issues such as immigration reform, immigration enforcement and amnesty for undocumented immigrants, usually with images of Mexican illegal immigrants crossing the border or being arrested by the border patrol, despite the fact that in many cases immigration could be an issue no more important than unemployment or the economy for many Latino American citizens.
Data from both the 2002 and 1999 National Surveys on Latinos revealed that over 60% percent of Latinos favor a larger government with more government programs, even if this means higher taxes. Government programs that Latinos are more likely to advocate for are those that focus on issues such as crime control and drug prevention, child care services, environmental protection, science and technology, defense, and programs for refugees and immigrants
According to the National Exit Poll, in 2012 60% of Latino voters identified the economy as the most important issue the country was facing. Education is also a constant preoccupation among Latino voters. Latinos emphasize education, mentioning such issues as expanding the number of schools, reducing class sizes, and adding to the cultural sensitivity of teachers and curricula. Other educational concerns expressed by Latinos include ensuring that children are able to advance to the next educational level. Following the economy and education, health care (18%), the federal budget deficit (11%) and foreign policy (6%), were other concerns among the Latino population.
According to Pew Research Center projections, 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote, representing 12% of all eligible voters. For the 2016 election, millennials made up 44% of Latino eligible voters which is an 80% increase since 2012. In 2016, 57% of Hispanic voters said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, up from 50% in 2012. Three-quarters of Hispanic registered voters said they had discussed Trump's comments about Hispanics or other groups with family, friends or coworkers, which made them more willing to vote in this election.
- Politics of the United States
- Race in the United States
- United States presidential election
- Jewish views and involvement in US politics
- Catholic Church and politics in the United States
- Identity politics
- Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler, "Projecting the 2012 Hispanic Vote," Center for Immigration Studies, August 2012. Available at: http://cis.org/projecting-2012-hispanic-vote-nationally-battleground-states
- "Mapping the Latino Electorate by State". Pew Research Center.
- DeSipio, Louis (2006). Latino Civic and Political Participation. In: National Research Council (US) Panel on Hispanics in the United States. ISBN 978-0-309-10044-1.
- Rosenstone, Steven; Hansen, John Mark (2002). Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. ISBN 978-0321121868.
- Pantoja, Adrian; Woods, Nathan (1999). "Turning out the Latino Vote in Los Angeles County:, Did Interest Group Efforts Matter?". American Review of Politics. 20: 141–162.
- Jackson, Robert (2003). "Differential Influences on Latino Electoral Participation". Political Behavior. 25 (4): 339–366.
- Maldonado, David (1999). Protestantes/Protestants : Hispanic Christianity within mainline traditions. pp. 9–18. ISBN 978-0687055098.
- Kelly, Nathan; Morgan, Jana (2005). "Religion and Latino partisanship in the United States". Political Research Quarterly. 58 (1): 87–95.
- Arbajano, Marisa (2010). Campaigning to the New American Electorate Advertising to Latino Voters. p. 216. ISBN 9780804774703.
- Coffin, Malcolm (2003). "The Latino Vote: Shaping Americas Electoral Future". The Political Quarterly. 74 (2): 214–222.
- De La Garza, Rodolfo; DeSipio, Louis; Garcia, Chris; Garcia, John; Falcon, Angelo (1992). Latino Voices: Mexican, Puerto Rican, And Cuban Perspectives On American Politics. ISBN 978-0813387246.
- "Latino Voters in the 2012 Election". Pew Research Center.
- "Democrats Maintain Edge as Party 'More Concerned' for Latinos, but Views Similar to 2012". Pew Research Center.