More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year’s election — a record for a midterm — according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006.
Rapid population growth has helped fuel Latinos’ increasing electoral participation. According to the Census Bureau, 50.5 million Hispanics were counted by the 2010 Census, up from 35.3 million in 2000. Over the same decade, the number of Latino eligible voters — adults who are U.S. citizens — also increased, from 13.2 million in 2000 to 21.3 million in 2010.
However, even though more Latinos than ever are participating in the nation’s elections, their representation among the electorate remains below their representation in the general population. In 2010, 16.3% of the nation’s population was Latino, but only 10.1% of eligible voters were Latino and fewer than 7% of voters were Latino.
This gap is driven by two demographic factors — youth and non-citizenship. More than one-third of Latinos (34.9%) are younger than the voting age of 18, a share greater than that of any other group. And an additional 22.4% are of voting age, but are not U.S. citizens.
I think both Democrats and Republicans are cognizant of these demographic changes. The issue of the Hispanic vote will be polarizing short term and the GOP may very well cut their losses and abandon states, like California that have large Democratic Hispanic voters. But, this will gradually change as the Hispanic population ages, and assimilates.
Moreover, I think over the long term the result of the demographic shift will be MORE Hispanic Republican candidates, competing against either Anglo or African-American Democrats.