Latinos are both the fastest growing and the largest community of the 2020 electorate. Could they define who the next president will be?
From butchering the Spanish language at the Democratic debates to giving interviews on Telemundo, the 2020 presidential candidates are surely paying attention to Latinos now. And with good reason. A study of demographic trends carried out by Anthony Cilluffo and Richard Fry has revealed that Latinos will be the largest minority of potential voters in the United States. With a record turnout on the 2018 midterm elections, an increase of 174% for Latino voters, no less, there has been a 295.1% growth in new registered Hispanic voters, and we can expect that number to keep growing for 2020. This means Latinos could define 2020, and some of the candidates have caught on.
To get an idea of what we're talking about, here are the raw numbers: 32 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2020. Compare that to 30 million African-Americans and 11 million Asian-Americans.
Could these elections change the trend? After all, white people remain the majority in the United States, but in a 20-year span, the white voters’ share of the total votes has dropped about 10 percent, from 76.4 to 66.7. Besides, people of color now make up their largest percentage ever, totaling a third of the vote, especially thanks to the increase in Hispanics.Also, the Pew Research Center claims one-in-ten eligible voters will be members of Generation Z. In 2020, Gen Z eligible voters are expected to be 55% white and 45% non-white, including 21% Hispanic, 14% Black, and 4% Asian or Pacific Islander: one of the most diverse groups of the entire electorate.
Democrats tend to take the Latino vote for granted, having won 70% of it in the last presidential election. However, the Pew Research Center warns that younger voters, especially younger Latino voters, are kind of a dark territory: “It remains unclear how these patterns might factor into the 2020 election and, as always, a great deal will depend on who turns out to vote.”
This last remark refers to the fact that even though there are more Latinos eligible to vote, one should factor in that Latino voter turnout has been historically low, a reason for non-profits like Voto Latino and Jolt to carry out campaigns like quinceañera parties featuring a table dedicated solely to voter registration. In the 2016 U.S. election, Pew finds, only about half of eligible Latinos cast a ballot, compared to 65.3 percent of white people and 59.6 percent of black people.
So, even though Latinos are growing at a significant rate, it’s unlikely that they’ll be a block big enough to decide next election. This has to do with turnout, obviously, but also where these Latinos are registered. And 90 percent of those registrations are concentrated in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. But in four big swing states, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio, Latinos make up 5 percent or less of eligible voters. And about 52 percent of all Latinos eligible to vote live in California, Texas, and New York, where there’s no further place to go in terms of campaigning.
Either way, Republicans could lose Latino voters. Even though 29% of them voted for Trump, two years into his administration US Latinos, their families and friends have either already lived through or witnessed the mistreatment and crackdown on undocumented immigrants, and the legal limbo in which Dreamers find themselves.Even if none of this helps vote Trump out of office, his policies might just have endangered the Republican party and its future with Latinos, the fastest growing community in the United States. And while the presidential elections are a tricky game, congressional elections are not. That's where Latinos could definitely make a difference. They simply have to show up and cast a ballot.