Latino vote

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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.[1][2]

Voting demographics[edit]

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%).[3]

Low Voting Turnout[edit]

President Bill Clinton and his Hispanic appointees in 1998

The percentage of Latinos who participate in political activities varies, but rarely exceeds half of those eligible.[4] In general, Latinos participate in common civic activities, such as voting, at much lower rates than nearby 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.[5] 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.[6]

President George W. Bush signs Executive Order 13230, October 12, 2001

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.[5] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[5] Therefore, low participation may result from low levels of knowledge about the political process that should be garnered through formal education.

This does vary based on country of origin. One study discussed how female Mexican-Americans and those attaining higher levels of income were more likely to register, and in turn, participate in voting.[9] On the other hand, however, education and marital status posed the primary barriers to Latino/a Puerto Rican voter registration.[9] These sorts of variations in factors seem to be present across many Hispanic communities in the United States. Additionally, studies have shown that the presence of Latino/a candidates on the ballot tends to yield a higher voter turnout among these communities.[10] This is in part due to the strong association between cultural identification and partisanship.[10] The ever-growing presence of Latino/a voters in politics is representative of the group's growing presence across the United States, making up over 30% of the population in swing or politically significant states such as Texas, Arizona, or California.[10]It's also worth noting that large migrating populations, such as the increase of Cuban-Americans in Florida, have a strong impact for similar reasons. Community identification proves a strong factor in voter registration, particularly among working Latinas.[10] Puerto Ricans in Southern states have similar turnout rates, presumably for similar reasons; that said, there does exist quite a bit of variation in numbers across states, in part due to the aforementioned factors.

Among other minority communities in the US, turnout seems to be increased by the presence of a member of their race on the ballot, black voter turnout rose significantly with Obamas two presidential campaigns and then fell back again in 2016.[11]

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.[7]

Latino Vote Influences[edit]

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[12] and with the Democratic Party with regard to political allegiance and identity.[13] 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. Religion's ideological role is undeniable in its political influence in both parties. However, noting the shared collective identity that is often associated with a particular religion, it's worth noting that political beliefs are often a result of community values, rather than solely religious. Notably, in 2006 and 2008, the Democratic party held an advantage in Latino/a voter turnout and results.[14] During these election cycles, and still to a degree today, the Democratic party appeals to issues such as immigration and healthcare, while the Republican party tends to continue on social issues and religion-based appeal.

Although the Latina vote, in particular, is sometimes seen as a product of social movements in many media outlets, some scholars in the social sciences argue that it is a movement in and of itself born out of historical left-wing advocacy.[15] For example, LLEGÓ, the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization (1987-present)[15] remains a leader in Latina activism in the United States. Organizations such as LLEGÓ have had historical impact over the political ideologies of its members, and has greatly influenced political participation over the years within these often overlooked communities. Considering the aforementioned important role played by ethnic and religious identity, these organizations cultivate a sense of collective political pride. In turn, voting turnout is often seen to increase with regards to historical and current members of LLEGÓ and other groups.

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.[16] 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.[16] During political movements in the 1960s and 1970s such as the women's liberation movement and the Chicano movement, Latina females began to unite around ideals similar to those embraced by feminist voter organizations including the Third World Women's Alliance and other Bay Area activist groups.[17] According to a study performed using the November 2000 CPS, education appeared to hold the greatest influence over Latina voter registration and choice, among income, employment, and homeowner status.[18] However, this study was conducted across the United States. Keeping this in mind, it is important to reconcile the issues important to singular communities with these overarching themes. For example, considering the growing Latino/a populations in Florida from Puerto Rico, factors of registration and choice will differ greatly between these groups and Latinos/as in other parts of the state.


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.[19]

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.[20] 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[21]

According to the National Exit Poll, in 2012 60% of Latino voters identified the economy as the most important issue the country was facing.[22] 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.[22] 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.[22]

2016 Election[edit]

According to Pew Research Center projections, 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote, representing 12% of all eligible voters.[23] For the 2016 election, millennials made up 44% of Latino eligible voters which is an 80% increase since 2012.[23] In 2016, 57% of Hispanic voters said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, up from 50% in 2012.[23] 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.[23] However this was not reflected in actual Latino voter turnout which actually decreased from 2012.[11]

This decrease is in spite of the extensive efforts of the Clinton campaign to reach out to Latino voters such as volunteers making millions of phone calls and face to face conversations with potential Latino voters, the first Spanish language speech in an American election given by Tim Kaine and a Spanish version of Hillary Clintons twitter and campaign website.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WCVI - Latino Voter Statistics".
  2. ^ "".
  3. ^ "Mapping the Latino Electorate by State". Pew Research Center.
  4. ^ Charles S. Bullock, and M. V. Hood, "A Mile‐Wide Gap: The Evolution of Hispanic Political Emergence in the Deep South." Social Science Quarterly 87.5 (2006): 1117-1135. online
  5. ^ a b c 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.
  6. ^ Rosenstone, Steven; Hansen, John Mark (2002). Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. ISBN 978-0321121868.
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Jackson, Robert (2003). "Differential Influences on Latino Electoral Participation". Political Behavior. 25 (4): 339–366. doi:10.1023/b:pobe.0000004062.12215.63. S2CID 144888683.
  9. ^ a b Jackson, Robert (2003). "Differential Influences on Latino Electoral Participation". Political Behavior. 25 (4): 339–366. doi:10.1023/b:pobe.0000004062.12215.63.
  10. ^ a b c d Jackson, M. (2011). Priming the Sleeping Giant: The Dynamics of Latino Political Identity and Vote Choice. Political Psychology, 32(4), 691-716. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from
  11. ^ a b "Black voter turnout fell in 2016 US election". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  12. ^ Maldonado, David (1999). Protestantes/Protestants : Hispanic Christianity within mainline traditions. pp. 9–18. ISBN 978-0687055098.
  13. ^ Kelly, Nathan; Morgan, Jana (2005). "Religion and Latino partisanship in the United States". Political Research Quarterly. 58 (1): 87–95. doi:10.2307/3595598. JSTOR 3595598.
  14. ^ Jackson, M. (2011). Priming the Sleeping Giant: The Dynamics of Latino Political Identity and Vote Choice. Political Psychology, 32(4), 691-716. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from
  15. ^ a b Ontiveros, R. J. (2017). Social movements. In D. R. Vargas, L. La Fountain-Stokes, & N. R. Mirabal, Keywords for latina/o studies. New York University Press. Credo Reference:
  16. ^ a b Arbajano, Marisa (2010). Campaigning to the New American Electorate Advertising to Latino Voters. p. 216. ISBN 9780804774703.
  17. ^ Cotera, M. E. (2017). Feminisms. In D. R. Vargas, L. La Fountain-Stokes, & N. R. Mirabal, Keywords for latina/o studies. New York University Press. Credo Reference:
  18. ^ Jackson, Robert (2003). "Differential Influences on Latino Electoral Participation". Political Behavior. 25 (4): 339–366. doi:10.1023/b:pobe.0000004062.12215.63.
  19. ^ Gutierrez, Jessica Marie (March 12, 2012). "IS RESPECT A MAJOR ISSUE FOR LATINOS: ELECTION 2012 COVERAGE ON THE HISPANIC VOTE".
  20. ^ Coffin, Malcolm (2003). "The Latino Vote: Shaping Americas Electoral Future". The Political Quarterly. 74 (2): 214–222. doi:10.1111/1467-923x.00531.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ a b c "Latino Voters in the 2012 Election". Pew Research Center.
  23. ^ a b c d "Democrats Maintain Edge as Party 'More Concerned' for Latinos, but Views Similar to 2012". Pew Research Center.
  24. ^ Larrosa-Fuentes, Juan (November 2016). "US Election Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign Early refections from leading academics" (PDF). Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community (Bournemouth University) Centre for Politics and Media Research (Bournemouth University): 43.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barreto, Matt A., and Loren Collingwood. "Group-based appeals and the Latino vote in 2012: How immigration became a mobilizing issue." Electoral Studies 40 (2015): 490–499. Online
  • Bell, Aaron. "The Role of the Latino Vote in the 2016 Elections." (2016). Online
  • Coffin, Malcolm. "The Latino Vote: Shaping Americas Electoral Future". Political Quarterly. 74#2 (2003): 214–222. doi:10.1111/1467-923x.00531
  • Collingwood, Loren, Matt A. Barreto, and Sergio I. Garcia-Rios. "Revisiting Latino voting: Cross-racial mobilization in the 2012 election." Political Research Quarterly 67.3 (2014): 632–645. online
  • Francis-Fallon, Benjamin. The Rise of the Latino Vote: A History (Harvard UP, 2019).
  • Leal, David L., et al. "The Latino vote in the 2004 election." PS: Political Science & Politics 38.1 (2005): 41–49. online
  • Lopez, Mark Hugo, and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. "Inside the 2012 Latino electorate." ( Pew 2013) online.
  • Nicholson, Stephen P., Adrian Pantoja, and Gary M. Segura. "Political knowledge and issue voting among the Latino electorate." Political Research Quarterly 59.2 (2006): 259–271. Online
  • Nuño, Stephen A. "Latino mobilization and vote choice in the 2000 presidential election." American Politics Research 35.2 (2007): 273–293. Online
  • Reny, Tyler, Bryan Wilcox-Archuleta, and Vanessa Cruz Nichols. "Threat, Mobilization, and Latino Voting in the 2018 Election." The Forum 16#4 (2018) online
  • Sanchez, Gabriel R., and Barbara Gomez-Aguinaga. "Latino Rejection of the Trump Campaign." Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 42.2 (2017). Online
  • Sears, David O., Felix Danbold, and Vanessa M. Zavala. "Incorporation of Latino immigrants into the American party system." RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2 #3 (2016): 183–204. Online