Pew: Record Number of Latinos Eligible to Vote in 2016 — Driven by Millennials, Naturalization

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The number of Latinos eligible to vote in 2016 is projected to be at a record high this presidential election and millennials are expected to make up nearly half of that eligible population, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

As the election cycle heats up, young people turning 18 and naturalizations are driving the growth in the eligible Latino voting bloc. Pew projects that the number of Latinos eligible to vote this year will be a record 27.3 million.

Millennials, according to Pew’s report, make up 44 percent of that record level of voting-eligible Latinos. In fact, millennials constitute a larger share of that voting-eligible population than any other group this year. Millennials are just 27 percent of white eligible voters, 30 percent of Asian eligible voters, and 35 percent of black eligible voters.

The prevalence of millennials as the dominate age range of eligible Latino voters highlight that the primary driver of voting-eligible Latino growth is U.S.-born Latinos turning 18.

“The median age among the nation’s 35 million U.S.-born Latinos is only 19… and Latino youth will be the main driver of growth among Latino eligible voters over the next two decades,” Pew reports.

“Between 2012 and 2016, about 3.2 million young U.S.-citizen Latinos will have advanced to adulthood and become eligible to vote, according to Pew Research Center projections. Nearly all of them are U.S. born—on an annual basis, some 803,000 U.S.-born Latinos reached adulthood in recent years,” it added.

And while youth is the main driver of the growth, Pew reports that the second largest source is naturalizations. The organization projects that from 2012 through this year 1.2 million Latinos will have naturalized to become citizens.

While the number of Latino-eligible voters is expected to be a record high they will still constitute a minority of voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the 219,941,000 voting eligible people over the age of 18, about 142,166,000 are registered to vote.

“With this rapid growth, the Latino electorate is projected to make up a record 11.9% of all U.S. eligible voters in 2016 and will pull nearly even with blacks, who will make up 12.4%. As a result, the Latino vote may be poised to have a large impact on the 2016 presidential election,” the report reads. “Yet, for many reasons, Latino voters are likely to once again be underrepresented among voters in 2016 compared with their share of eligible voters or their share of the national population.”

Pew notes that Latino voters are less likely to turn out during elections than any other group and millennial are less likely than older voters to show up to the polls. While the turn-out rate for all voters was 61.8 percent in 2012, among Latinos it was just 48 percent. It was even lower for voting-eligible millennial Latinos, just 37.8 percent of who voted.


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