By Glenn Minnis – – – –
The face of the Latino voter, an electorate many predict will decide who takes residence in the White House in November 2016, is as distinct as ever, characterized by an inquiring mind.
That description is according to the Pew Research Center, which recently released a study concluding that the Latino electorate is as big and as educated about the issues most dear to them as it has ever been. The study also found that, of the record number 27.3 million Latinos now eligible to raise their voices by casting ballots, nearly half are young adults between the ages of 18 and 35.
That 27 million represents a 40 percent uptick since Barack Obama was first elected president, and the number clearly illustrates why the Latino voting bloc has become so critical to the overall fortunes of both Democratic and Republican national office seekers alike.
Latino Voting Bloc on the Rise
According to Pew, as recently as 1986, 82 percent of Americans eligible to vote were white. Just short of three decades later, that figure has dipped to 70 percent, and the number of Latinos eligible to have a say at the polls has climbed from 5 percent to 11.4 percent.
By comparison, the number of black voters over the same time period only marginally increased from 11 percent to 12 percent, and the Asian share climbed from 1.4 percent in 1990 to 4.2 percent by 2014.
Overall, Latino millennials, or voters born after 1981, will represent a whopping 44 percent of the Hispanic electorate by November’s election, compared to just 27 percent of white millennials.
While most new Latino voters are not immigrants themselves, the study found many of them are directly impacted by the issue of immigration. Many thus consider it critical to settle the widening debate over what should come of the 11 million immigrants now in the U.S. without proper authorization.
The Fight for the Latino Vote
That at least partly explains why Latino-led voting drives, the depths of which have never been seen before, are sprouting up all over. During the recently concluded Iowa caucuses, won by Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, as many as 50,000 young Hispanics received direct mailings or robocalls. The messages warned them, “If we don’t participate in the Iowa caucuses, then everyone else gets to decide for us what issues are important and which candidates will address those issues.”
As Latin Post reported, engagements efforts in Iowa attracted more than 10,000 Latinos. Joe Enriquez Henry, president of LULAC of Iowa, said last week, “We have accomplished what we set out to do, which was to raise the profile of the Latino vote in Iowa, educate our community about the caucuses – especially our youth – and mobilize our people to attend and voice their choice for the next president of the United States.”
Just like Iowa has a small Latino population, New Hampshire is also home to a small Latino population, but the eyes are set for the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20, where 27.8 percent of the state’s population comprise of Latinos, more than 10 percent higher than the national average of 17.4 percent.