Naturalized Latino immigrants who arrived in the 1990s, older Latinos, and Puerto Ricans were the 3 groups within the Latino voter demographic whose participation in the 2012 elections did not drop from 2008 — whereas turnout declined in all other groups. This is one of the findings in a new Pew Hispanic report out today, Inside the 2012 Latino electorate.
A record 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012, a result of the increasing Latino population in the U.S. But the turnout rate — in other words, the percentage of eligible Latino voters who went out and voted — dropped slightly in 2012 to 48 percent, from 49.9 in 2012.
Yet among naturalized Latino immigrants, turnout increased from about 41 percent to about 47 percent. Latinos 65 and older increased their participation from 56 percent to close to 60 percent, and Puerto Rican voter turnout increased from 49.7 percent in 2008 to 52.8 percent in 2012.
Pew Hispanic associate director Mark Hugo Lopez says increased turnout among older Latino voters mirrors the general population, in which older voters participate at higher rates. Among Puerto Rican voters, “there was a lot of outreach toward this group, particularly in central Florida, which could have contributed to higher voter turnout rates,” says Lopez. He also adds that in recent years, more Puerto Ricans have left the island to live in the U.S. mainland.
Voter turnout rates vary among different Latino groups. The highest voter turnout rates were among college-educated Latinos, at almost 71 percent, and Cuban-American Hispanics, whose participation, at 67.2 percent, exceeded the general population as a whole, and surpassed non-Hispanic white voters and African-American voters.
Among the groups with the lowest turnout were young Hispanics ages 18 to 29, with less than 40 percent voter turnout, as well as Mexican-Americans, with 42.2 percent turnout. The lowest voter turnout was among those with less than a high school degree — less than 36 percent of Hispanics in this group voted.
Just 43.9% of Hispanics are eligible to vote, compared to more than half (51.7%) of Asians, 69.1% of blacks and 78.6% of whites are eligible to vote. This is driven by two things — the relative youth of the nation’s Latinos, and the high number of non-citizen Latino adults.
The report found the number of Latinos who say they were registered to vote in 2012 reached 13.7 million, up 18 percent from 2008. This was a record. However, the voter turnout rate among Latino registered voters was lower in 2012 than in 2008 — 81.7% versus 84%.