Monday, June 06, 2016

South's rising Latino population could steer election, though half of them are ineligible to vote

An increasing population of eligible Latino voters in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina could swing the presidential election this November, says a study by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies. The study found that the Latino population in those three states increased from 1.2 percent in 1990 to 8.8 percent in 2014, consisting of 2.2 million Latinos, up from 205,000 in 1990. Latinos only accounted for 3.7 percent of eligible voters in those three states in 2014, mainly because two-thirds were foreign born and half were not legal citizens. A large Latino population supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Latinos are expected to favor Democrat Hillary Clinton this year, especially since Republican Donald Trump has been outspoken against immigration.
"The percentage of the Latino electorate that has voted in presidential elections nationally between 1992 and 2012 was the lowest among the major race/ethnic groups in the nation at approximately 48 percent, with no change whatsoever in each presidential race," says the report. "This compared with about two-thirds of all non-Hispanic whites and blacks who voted in the same election cycles. This low voter participation rate was linked to low voter registration rates which also remained stagnant between 1992 and 2012 at about 58 percent."

Latinos' biggest influence could be in North Carolina, says the study. In 2014 in North Carolina 68 percent of eligible Latinos were registered to vote, above the national average of 58 percent. Registration numbers are projected to be 76 percent for this year's election. Latinos are projected to make up about 2.9 percent of the state's voters this fall, up from 2.1 percent in 2012. That could be a significant number, considering Republican Mitt Romney won the state by 2 percentage points in 2012. (Read more)

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