If one hopes to analyze current trends and anticipate where we’re going, one must understand where we’ve been. Below, you’ll find the Hispanic voter breakdown for presidential elections from 1980 to present.
- 1980 Jimmy Carter, 56% Ronald Reagan, 35% +21
- 1984 Walter Mondale, 61% Ronald Reagan, 37% +24
- 1988 Michael Dukakis, 69% George H.W. Bush, 30% +39
- 1992 Bill Clinton, 61% George H.W. Bush, 25% +36
- 1996 Bill Clinton, 72% Bob Dole, 21% +51
- 2000 Al Gore, 62% George W. Bush, 35% +27
- 2004 John Kerry, 58% George W. Bush, 40% +18
- 2008 Barack Obama, 67% John McCain, 31% +36
- 2012 Barack Obama, 71% Mitt Romney, 27% +44
The changing Latino demographic has been chronicled extensively throughout the last few election cycles. The Hispanic voting block has been expanding for some 20+ years as more and more immigrants become citizens and attain voting rights.
The growth in the Latino electorate has shifted over time from immigrants to the young with US born Latinos turning 18 and becoming eligible to vote. Roughly 500 – 600,000 Latino voters are added to the voting rolls each year. Predictably, this occurs in greater numbers in states such as Texas and California however it is also happening in states with smaller Latino populations, states such as Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.
While there are differences in viewpoints with each generation, immigration is the issue that drives the Latino electorate. The economy and jobs are of concern too, as evidenced by recent polls suggesting that Latinos are very concerned about the level of Federal spending. Still, immigration is the tail that wags the dog.
Despite President Obama’s record on immigration (he had deported more immigrants in his three years as president than any other in history), his announcement of the DACA shifted opinion amongst the Latino community and along with that, his poll numbers. In the 2012 race for the White House, this shift resulted in Barack Obama collecting 71% of the Latino vote.
This next election cycle, there will be candidates of Hispanic dissent for both major parties, all having interesting ideas and attributes, all worth our consideration. Ted Cruz (R – TX), Marco Rubio (R – FL), Julian Castro (D – AR), or Susanna Martinez (R – NM) all have been mentioned as being possible candidates on their respective party’s ticket.
There is a great deal of diversity without the Latino community so it isn’t unrealistic to think that any of the above can have a chance to make some noise in the 2016 general election. Here are some recent numbers that all candidates will be paying attention to in their attempt to vie for votes among their peers in the Latino community:
- 16% of the US population is Latino. This represents 10% of registered voters.
- By 2050, projections indicate that 29% of the US population will be Latino.
- 62% of Latinos believe that there should be a path to citizenship for any illegal immigrants who have no criminal background, meet guidelines and learn English.
- 30% of Latino registered voters are not affiliated with a party (independent).
- A recent poll by Latino Decisions indicates that if Marco Rubio ran in 2016, he could likely expect to receive roughly 54% of the vote including half of those who voted for Obama in 2012.
When one considers that the battleground states for the upcoming election cycle are expected to be Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado (all of whom have a heavy Latino voting block), 2016 could shape up to be a watershed year for Latino voters.