The Hispanic vote in 2012 and beyond

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Hispanic Voters

Hispanics take their civic duties seriously, reliably voting at a high percentage. (Photo/ us2012)

The growing Hispanic vote played an unmistakable role in Tuesday’s election, presenting obvious challenges for conservatives moving forward. Hispanic’s national share of vote, exponentially rising eligible voters, and key-state vote differentials all lead to a clear point: Hispanics are an ever-important part of the electorate that can’t be ignored.  The scope of the challenge is broad but there is opportunity ahead for conservatives to engage Hispanics.

Please click here to see HLN’s latest infographic.

Hispanic vote growing

For years, Hispanic activists in the conservative movement have underscored the importance of engaging Hispanics. This past Tuesday more than 11 million Hispanics voted in the presidential election — 10 percent of the national electorate. Just as the white share of vote is declining each election, Hispanics’ share is growing.

Share of the Hispanic Vote

2012

2008

2004

National

10%

9%

8%

Sources: The New York Time and the Pew Hispanic Center/ Hispanic vote

Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the U.S., estimated to grow to 132 million-strong by 2050, making up 30 percent of the country’s population. There are currently 23.7 million Hispanics eligible to vote, a 7.6 million-person increase since just 2004, with 50,000 Hispanics turning 18 every month.

That helps explain why 1.3 million more Hispanics voted on Tuesday than in 2008 while national overall turnout declined significantly. Moreover, from 2004 to 2008, the number of Hispanics who voted increased by 21.65 percent. From 2008 to 2012 the number of Hispanics who voted increased by 11 percent.

Additionally, Hispanics take their civic duties seriously, reliably voting at a high percentage. Between 46.4 – 49.7 percent of eligible Hispanics voted in the last three elections.

Eligible Hispanic Voters

2012

2008

2004

Number of eligible voters 23.7 million 19.5 million 16.1 million
Number of votes cast 11 million 9.7 million 7.6 million
%Voted Increase From Previous Election 11% 21.65% -
Percentage of Eligible That Voted 46.4% 49.7% 47.2%

Source: The Pew Hispanic Center/ Hispanic vote

The swing state problem
Just eight years ago President Bush received nearly half of the national Hispanic vote and 56 percent of it in Florida. Yet on Tuesday, Hispanics voted for President Obama over Gov. Romney 71 percent to 27 percent nationally, with disturbing differentials in key swing states. In Florida, Romney garnered just 38 percent of the vote, compared to McCain’s 42 percent and Bush’s 56 percent. That’s an 18-point drop over 8 years in a state he lost by just 100,000 votes this year. Similar perilous swings exist in the mountain west states of New Mexico and Nevada.

A future red state problem
Conservatives will face an even larger future problem if they don’t engage the Hispanic community, in currently non-competitive presidential states like Texas and Arizona that Romney lost Hispanics by over 40 points in. Just eight years ago, President Bush lost Arizona Hispanics by just 13 points and came within 1-point of winning Texas Hispanics, 50-49. What’s more, since 2004, Arizona’s Hispanic share of the vote has increased from 12 percent to 19 percent and Texas’ has risen from 20 percent to 26 percent since 2004, according to The Pew Hispanic Center and The New York Times. On this current trajectory, how many years until both are presidential swing states?

Breakdown of the Hispanic vote by presidential candidate

2012 2012 2008 2008 2004 2004
Obama Romney Obama McCain Kerry Bush
National 71% 27% 67% 31% 53% 44%
Arizona 77% 22% 56% 41% 56% 43%
California 72% 27% 74% 23% 63% 32%
Colorado 74% 25% 61% 38% 68% 30%
Florida 60% 38% 57% 42% 44% 56%
Nevada 69% 24% 76% 22% 60% 39%
New Mexico 64% 29% 69% 30% 56% 44%
North Carolina 65% 34% - - - -
Texas 70% 29% 63% 35% 50% 49%
Virginia 64% 33% 65% 34% - -

Sources: Latino Decisions/ImpreMedia, The New York Time and the Pew Hispanic Center/ Hispanic vote chart

A Hispanic opportunity
The Hispanic community is not a monolithic group and they care about many issues. While they may have broken for Obama, there is opportunity for conservatives to engage the community if they want to win in future presidential races. For example, in a Latino Decisions/ImpreMedia poll of Hispanic voters on the eve of election night, when asked, “Thinking about the 2012 election, what are the most important issues facing the Latino/Hispanic community that our politicians should address?”

  • 53% said Economy/Jobs
  • 35% said Immigration
  • 20% said Education.

Inviting Hispanic business owners to the movement

Moreover, conservatives must leverage the Hispanic community’s entrepreneurial spirit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2007, there are upwards of 2.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. – up 44 percent from 2002. As the fastest growing minority business group in the country, Hispanic business owners understand first-hand the need for less burdensome regulations and lower taxes to expand, grow, and hire more workers.

Abandoning myths

On immigration, the myth that all Hispanics want amnesty for undocumented immigrants is just that – a myth. In fact, many Hispanics support sensible immigration reform, but as Americans, they too express concerns about proposals that do not include securing the border. The movement must also ensure that more conservative Hispanics are involved in immigration reform discussions, and put forth proposals that include a guest worker program and overhauling our current visa system. Interestingly, an HLN poll showed that American voters support “allowing children of undocumented immigrants who have been here for years to obtain legal residency status after their honorable discharge from service in the U.S. military” by 83 percent while and 67 percent support “allowing children of undocumented immigrants who have been here for years to obtain legal residency if they graduate from college.”

The last mile – How do you do it?

Candidates must increase their understanding of their constituencies, as well as demographic shifts.  Increased understanding should be partnered with strong coalition building efforts at the local level, and among leading Hispanic groups nationally. The movement’s objectives must include long-term, sustainable efforts to engage the Hispanic community on issues affecting them and that concern them the most.

At the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN), we are putting into action what we advise, by engaging Hispanics on center-right issues that will restore prosperity and opportunity to America. Through communications, grassroots, policy development and interaction with our elected officials at the local and national level, we are well on our way to building the largest network of Hispanic advocates in the country.

Hispanic Vote

Hispanic vote chart by HLN.

 

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Source: Hispanic Leadership Network

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