“RECORD HISPANIC VOTERS IN 2016, MAYBE”
Wow! Hispanic eligible voters will set more records this year; this Presidential election year of 2016.
As it was, Hispanic voters set a new record for voting in 2012 when 9.7 million of us voted. That would be remarkable except that the 9.7 million was actually disgusting. It amounted to only 48 percent of Hispanics eligible to vote in 2012. Our White neighbors turned out 64 percent and Blacks turned out a record 66.6 percent.
That’s what I mean by disgusting. Whites and Blacks turn out to vote and by comparison we don’t. Pew Research Center projects that we will have 27.3 million eligible Hispanic voters this November, a record that amounts to 11.9 percent of the total eligible voters. So, unless we beat out the sorry 2012 percentage we might not affect potential razor-thin Presidential votes in Colorado, Virginia and Florida. Granted that it is possible for the Presidential election to be so close as to have those states tip the balance one way or another even with a 48 percent Hispanic turnout. Think how much effect a 55-60 percent Hispanic turnout would have.
We won’t, however, affect the critical Senate vote in California, for example, if we can’t beat down a miserable 48 percent turnout. For the first time in history, California will have a Hispanic candidate to vote for, running for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Senator Barbara Boxer.
Here are the numbers from Pew and the U.S. Census:
Of the potential national 25.5 million Hispanic voters this November, seven million are in California. If 50 percent turn out to vote, 3.5 million will be in position to influence the Senate election. But imagine if we turned out 60 percent. That would add 700,000 more Hispanic votes to the “normal” 3.5million. That would be enough to elect the first Hispanic U.S. Senator from California in the state’s history. Nationally, Mexican Americans are 59.2 percent of all Hispanics, in California they are 82 percent. Nationally Salvadorans are 2.6 percent but are the second largest Hispanic population in California at 4.3 percent. Puerto Ricans are the second largest Hispanic group in the country with 14.1 percent but only 2 percent in California. Thus, the Hispanic voter in California is Mexican American.
Voter eligible, of course, means anyone over 18. There we start to run into problems. For example, the median age (half above and half below) of the U.S. born Hispanic population is only 19. We know that 19 year-old people hardly ever vote. That is a significant reason why our voter participation percentage is so low.
The California Hispanic voter by age: 36% are between 18 and 29 while only 24 percent of other California voters are 18 to 29; the 30-44 Hispanic voter amounts to 27.5 percent. Thus, under 44 Hispanic voters are 63.5 percent or almost two-thirds of the California voter. Age, then is the principal reason why our vote total is so low, percentage wise.
Three other factors enter our analysis of Hispanic voters: (1) Education; (2) Home ownership and (3) Income.
Educationally, the more education the more likely to vote. But with 22 percent of Hispanics with less than high school nationally and in California, that lack of education has a serious effect on voting. Nationally, the less-than-high-school rate is only 10 percent, half that of the Hispanic rate. In home ownership, Hispanic ownership is 20 percent lower than the rest of the country. This lesser level of home ownership reflects an I-don’t-care because I don’t have an investment in the community attitude that reflects directly on voter turnout.
Income is the final ingredient in low voter turnout. The less than $30,000 income group nationally is 20.7 percent; it is higher among Hispanics with 22.8 percent. This income group doesn’t vote in great numbers; they are a significant portion of the non-voting Hispanic population.
Age and income directly affect voter turnout, yet we see that income-wise the national and California Hispanics are about the same as their numbers in the low income group, thus age is the dominate factor in low voter turnout.
The Hispanic community must face this fact head on and go after young Hispanics and talk to them one-on-one, mentor them on the civics lessons they missed when they stopped going to school. Candidates and campaigns can help by energetically and intelligently reaching out to Hispanics.
Back to California, with two Hispanics running in the June Primary for the U.S. Senate, it is up to them to create excitement among Hispanics. The one who aggressively reaches into the Hispanic community and convinces many of these young people to turn out to vote, to increase that disgusting 48 percent turnout, that candidate can single handedly create more Hispanic influence at the ballot box. He may even beat the odds and win the Senate seat.