WASHINGTON – Nearly eight out of 10 registered Latino voters will cast their ballots in the 2016 election, breaking the 2012 record by nearly 2 million voters, according to a projection released Tuesday by a leading Latino civic engagement group.
Based on a survey by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, 13.1 million of the 16.2 million registered Latino voters will cast ballots on Nov. 8, up from 11.2 million in 2012. There are 27.3 million eligible Latino voters. Pew Research Center released a similar forecast, saying seven in 10 registered Latino voters are “absolutely certain” that they will vote in the November.
For presidential politics, the NALEO report was clear: “Hillary Clinton would win Latino voters in key battleground states by a wide margin if the election were held today.”
Percentage of Latino voters projected to vote for Hillary Clinton in key battleground states
There is one big roadblock, according to the group, looming over Latinos’ heads this election.
“This is the first presidential election that we will hold in nearly 50 years without the protections of the Voting Rights Act,” said Arturo Vargas, NALEO executive director.
The report outlined 19 states that have “enacted or implemented unfair voting policies after Election 2012.” Even in states where court decisions dialed back some of the policies, the report claimed that “not all localities are complying with orders; many Latinos still cannot obtain the documents needed to vote.”
“If we can get Latinos registered to vote, it is highly likely that we can turn them out to vote,” Vargas said. “What we see in 2016 is high voter enthusiasm from Latinos.”
The group’s report also analyzed congressional elections of importance to Latino voters — those in which Latinos are candidates and those in which Latinos could have the deciding vote.
For Congress, the report found 24 races across 12 states in which the Latino vote could be the deciding factor.
The report said that the Senate could add two Latino senators if former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., win their respective races. They would be the first Latinas to serve in the Senate.
The House could surge by as many as seven Latino members, all Democrats, according to the report. Those candidates projected as likely to win, include:
- Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal in California;
- Former Orange County Supervisor Lou Correa, also from California;
- State Sen. Darren Soto of Florida;
- State Sen. Adriano Espaillat of New York;
- Attorney Vicente Gonzalez of Texas.
In Arizona, where the NALEO report projected both Latino congressmen will win, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Monday a new push — with speeches from heavy hitters like first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., scheduled for later this week.
Clinton’s husband is the only Democratic presidential candidate to have carried the state since 1948, which means a Clinton win there in 2016 would be a big deal.