Oncoming Latino Voters

Latinos cast one of every ten votes in the 2012 presidential election, according to the National Election Exit Poll. The simple passage of time alone will double Latino’s potential power at the polls over the course of the next four presidential election cycles.

The growth of the Latino electorate is not subject to any future decisions on immigration policy. Rather, steady increases in the number of Latino eligible voters will occur as Latinos already born in the United States as citizens with full voting rights reach voting age. Their emergence is the result of a fundamental change in the demographic dynamics of the Latino vote. Because of high birth rates, Latinos constitute a much larger share of the youth population than of the adult population, and a much higher proportion of those young Latinos are native-born U.S. citizens than in their parents’ generation.

In 2011, the year the data used here were collected, Latinos made up nearly 10.5 percent of eligible voters, i.e. U.S. citizens at least 18 years old. (The Latino share was generally estimated to have surpassed 11 percent by the time of the November 2012 election.) Meanwhile, in 2011 the Latino share of U.S. citizens under 18 years old was more than twice as high: 22.7 percent.

Like the current population, those oncoming Latino voters are not evenly distributed around the country. This map illustrates the distribution at the state level of young Latinos who are U.S. citizens and who are under the age of 18. The percentages, which are visible by clicking on a state or by referencing the TABLE, vary considerably. For example, in Texas the share is 48, meaning that 48 percent of all U.S. citizens under the age of 18 in Texas are Latinos. Meanwhile, in Virginia the share is 11 percent.

Data source: American Community Survey, 2011, one-year estimates.