Study: Latino, Asian Voter Turnout Plummets in California

Empty Polling Place California (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty)
Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty

Voter participation rates among California’s two fastest-growing ethnic groups dropped sharply in 2014, helping to contribute to a record low voter turnout in last year’s general election, a new study has found.

Latinos cast just 15.4 percent of votes in the California general election despite constituting a full 39 percent of the state’s population, according to the study by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. Just 17.3 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots in the general election, the study found.

Meanwhile, Asian-Americans cast a meager 7.4 percent of the state’s general election ballots while comprising 13.3 percent of its population. 18.4 percent of eligible Asian-Americans voted in the general election, according to the study.

A dismal 18.3 percent of California’s eligible voters cast ballots in the June 2014 statewide election, while 41.7 percent of voters showed up to the polls for November’s general election. The poor turnout was blamed on a lack of enthusiasm for candidates as well as a dearth of hot-button ballot measures. The 2016 election is almost sure to capture higher voter turnout, when the presidential election, Sen. Barbra Boxer’s open Senate seat, and a marijuana legalization ballot measure bring more citizens out to the polls.

Other key findings from the study:

  • In 2014, 36.9 percent of registered Asian-American voters in California registered No Party Preference (NPP), while 37.1 percent registered as Democrats. 21.9 percent registered Republican.
  • Using 2012 data as a baseline, by 2040, Latinos’ share of California’s total votes is projected to rise to 29.2 percent. At the same time, Latinos and Asian-Americans combined will constitute a majority of voters in many areas of the state.
  • California is projected to have a “majority-minority” electorate by 2016, with non-Latino whites making up less than 50 percent of the state’s eligible voters.

Check out the rest of the UC Davis study here.