DemDaily: The Latino Factor

December 12, 2018

The second-largest ethnic group in the United States, the Latino community compromises approximately 18% of the US population and 11% of the voting electorate.

Often referred to as "the sleeping giant" by analysts, Latinos are the largest emerging voting block in the country, with the potential to determine the outcome of the next presidential election.

Image: Odyssey

In the midterms, in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Texas, the average vote increase among Latinos was 96% compared to 37% among non-Latinos from 2014 to 2018.

The significance of these numbers is not lost on Democrats, who captured 69% of the Latino vote in 2018 versus just 29% for Republicans.

With only 55% of eligible Latino voters registered, the potential to expand those numbers puts the demographic at the top of the voter reg priorities going into 2020.

The Breakdown

Further analysis suggests the growth in the Latino vote was a factor in flipping at least 20 House seats from red to blue.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, Texas' first Latina Members

When the 116th Congress convenes in January, there will be 38 Hispanic Members of the House, including 33 Democrats and five Republicans. New members include Democrats Mike Levin (CA-49), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Jesús "Chuy" García (IL-4), Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Sylvia Garcia (TX-6) and Veronica Escobar (TX-16), as well as one Republican, Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16).

In the US Senate, there are four members: Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) and Bob Menendez (New Jersey), and Republicans Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas).

Although no Latinos were added to the ranks of the upper chamber, their impact was felt in key Senate races, including Texas (30%), Arizona (23%) and Florida, with 20% Hispanic voter registration.

The implications of the numbers for 2020 are significant, particularly in those three states, which many feel are on the verge of turning from red to blue.

Joaquin Castro (TX-20), new Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

In Texas, Democrat Beto O'Rourke received 64% of the Latino vote to incumbent Ted Cruz's (R) 35%.  Although Beto lost, he came within three percentage point of unseating an incumbent thought unbeatable a year ago, which can be attributed to the record Latino turnout.

It also boosted the profile of Beto as a potential national contender who has the ability to motivate a core component of the Democratic base.

Whoever Democrats pick as their presidential nominee, the Latino vote will be a critical factor in taking back the White House.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott

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Resources: CNN, Pew Research, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, Houston Chronicle, NBC, CBS, NALEO

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