News Column

Record Number of Hispanic Eligible Voters

October 2, 2012
Hispanic Voters

A record 23.7 million Hispanic eligible voters are a 22 percent jump since the last U.S. presidential vote, but turnout will likely be much less, a study said.

The 4.2 million increase in Latinos eligible to vote since 2008 means Latinos make up 11 percent of the nation's 215 million eligible voters this year, up from 9.5 percent in 2008 and 8.2 percent in 2004, the Pew Hispanic Center analysis of U.S. Census data indicated.

But a projected 50 percent Hispanic voter-turnout rate would cut the Latino vote in half, said the center, a project of Washington's Pew Research Center think tank.

About 12 million Latinos are expected to vote Nov. 6, analysts forecast. The turnout would be a record but would still half the eligible number from the nation's largest minority group.

Fifty percent of eligible Latinos voted in the 2008, compared with 65 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites, a 2009 Pew study found.

Hispanics voted for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 by 67 percent to 31 percent.

Some polls indicate more than 60 percent of Latinos could vote for Obama again Nov. 6.

Yet, despite ongoing Latino population growth to 52 million, or 17 percent of the U.S. population, the number of Latinos who said they registered to vote between 2008 and 2010 fell by some 600,000, census data indicated.

This was the first significant decline in the number of Latino registered voters in two decades, Pew said.

National information about Latino voter registration this year is not available.

Part of the reason for a relatively low Latino voter turnout is that Hispanics are proportionally younger than other groups -- about a third of are 18 to 29 -- and younger people tend to vote at much lower rates than older people, Pew said.

Blacks, by contrast, are older and vote at higher rates than Latinos in part because their churches often urge them to register and get to the polls, analysts cited by the Los Angeles Times said.

In addition, voting "is not seen as a real need" among many Latinos, who tend to feel disconnected from the broader society, political author Maria Elena Ferrer, a principal of the non-partisan Humanamente consulting firm near New York City, told KSNV-TV, Las Vegas.

"You are not feeling that you count, so maybe you will be thinking why I have to vote if it doesn't count," she said.


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Source: Copyright United Press International 2012


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