A record making up, for the first time, 11% of all eligible voters nationwide. But despite a growing national presence, in many states with close Senate and gubernatorial races this year, Latinos make up a smaller share of eligible voters, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center.
Since 2010, the number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by 3.9 million. Their share among eligible voters nationally is also on the rise, up from 10.1% in 2010 and 8.6% in 2006 (Lopez, 2011), reflecting the relatively faster growth of the Hispanic electorate compared with other groups.
Yet in the eight states with close Senate races, just 4.7% of eligible voters on average are Latinos. Among those states, Latinos make up less than 5% of eligible voters in six. Only in Colorado does the 14.2% Latino share among eligible voters exceed the 10.7% national average. Kansas is the only other state where the Latino share among eligible voters exceeds 5%. As a result, the impact of Latino voters in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate may not be as large as might be expected given their growing electoral and demographic presence nationwide. In other 2014 Senate races—none of which are competitive—Latinos make up more than 10% of eligible voters in just three: New Mexico, where Latinos make up 40.1% of eligible voters; Texas, where 27.4% of eligible voters are Latino; and New Jersey, where Latinos make up 12.8% of eligible voters.
Eligible voters are U.S. citizen adults. Not all eligible voters are registered to vote, or turn out to vote in an election. Nonetheless, the number of Hispanic eligible voters and their share among a state’s eligible voters provides insight into the potential impact of the Hispanic vote. So far that impact has been muted by the fact that Hispanic voter turnout rates in midterm elections and presidential elections have lagged other racial and ethnic groups (Krogstad, 2014). For example, in 2010, while 31.2% of Hispanic eligible voters voted, 48.6% of white and 44.0% of black eligible voters turned out on Election Day.
In the case of this year’s 14 competitive House races, the share of eligible voters that are Hispanic is, on average, 13.6%ý—slightly exceeding Hispanics’ 10.7% share nationwide.
About This Report
This report examines national Latino voter participation trends in U.S. midterm elections. It also examines the geographic distribution of Latino voters across the nation’s 435 congressional districts and across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with a focus on places with close Congressional, Senate and gubernatorial elections this year. The report also examines national Latino attitudes about gun control, marijuana use, the minimum wage and abortion. All four issues are part of ballot initiatives in many states this year.
Accompanying this report are state profiles of Latino eligible voters in 42 states and the District of Columbia.Also accompanying this report is an interactive map and sortable table showing key characteristics of Latino voters in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as an interactive map and sortable table showing the number of Latino eligible voters in all 435 Congressional Districts of the current 113th Congress.
The data for this report are from four main sources. The first is the November Voting and Registration Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPS is representative of the non-institutionalized population of the U.S. It does not include data on the voting behavior of enlisted military personnel and those who are institutionalized. The November Voting and Registration Supplement of the CPS is one of the richest sources of information available about the characteristics of voters. It is conducted after Election Day and relies on survey respondent self-reports of voting and voter registration. In addition to the November Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey, this report also uses the August 2014 Current Population Survey to estimate current characteristics of the nation’s Latino eligible voters.
The second data source is the 2012 American Community Survey. The 2012 ACS provides detailed geographic, demographic and economic characteristics for Latino and non-Latino eligible voters and is the main source for the state-level analysis of this report and the accompanying state profiles of Latino eligible voters
Latino attitudes on social issues data are from the following Pew Research Center surveys: (1) the January-March 2014 Political Polarization and Typology Survey of 10,013 adults, including 902 Latino adults; (2) the January 2014 Political Survey of 1,504 adults, including 162 Latino adults; and (3) the February 2014 Political Survey of 1,821 adults, including 216 Latino adults. The surveys were conducted in English and Spanish on both landline and cellular telephones.
This report was written by Mark Hugo Lopez, Jens Manuel Krogstad, Eileen Patten and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. Analysis for the report was provided by Anna Brown, Gonzalez-Barrera, Lopez, and Patten. Brown and Patten wrote the accompanying state profiles. Claudia Deane and Michael Dimock provided editorial guidance and comments. Jeffrey Passel provided analysis on the Latino eligible voter population in each Congressional District. The interactive maps and sortable tables were developed by Russell Heimlich and Michael Piccorossi. Michael Keegan provided additional graphic support and editorial guidance. Patten and Brown number-checked the report and Gonzalez-Barrera number-checked the interactive maps and tables. Bruce Drake was the copy editor. Michael Suh provided web support.
A Note on Terminology
The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
References to other races and ethnicities are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. “Asian” does not include Pacific Islanders.
“Eligible voters” refers to persons ages 18 and older who are U.S. citizens.
For findings based on state voter registration data, “registered voters” refers to tallies of registered voters reported by state election officials.
“Voters” are those who say they voted in the Voting and Registration Supplement of the CPS.
“Voter turnout rate” is the share of eligible voters who say they voted.
“Competitive” or “close” races for House, Senate and Gubernatorial seats were identified by the Pew Research Center using ratings as of October 15 from The Cook Political Report, Real Clear Politics and CNN. For Senate races, FiveThirtyEight.com was also used. States or Congressional districts identified as a toss-up or competitive race by all available sources is identified as a close race in this report.