The Latino Vote is Younger – and Growing Powerful
It is well known that Hispanics are the youngest racial minority group in the nation. According to a Pew Research Study, of the 27.3 million eligible Hispanic voters, about 44 percent are Millennials, making this the second largest youth voting bloc in the country. Additionally, there has been a steady influx of Latino immigrants entering the U.S. since the 1960s. This combination has created quite a large and powerful group of young people who will be able to influence policies, public officials, and social changes.
Contrary to what some may think, these young Latinos are not quite sure where they fall when it comes time to vote. A recent survey of Hispanic voters conducted by the Washington Post and Univision reveals that 32 percent are unsure of which party they would support in the general election. And while many on the left believe that they have the Latino vote locked up, Pew research on past elections should make them rethink that. In the 2014 midterm elections, 48 percent of Latinos voted for the conservative candidate in a key Senate Race in Texas. In Georgia, 47 percent of Latinos voted conservative in the gubernatorial race. These close outcomes show that Latinos are an ethnicity – not a political affiliation.
Many are also confused about the key issues affecting the Hispanic community. Some on the left suggest that the environment or global warming are the most important issues among Hispanics. However, according to the Washington Post and Univision survey, ‘Jobs and the Economy’ is the number one issue among Hispanic voters, followed closely by Immigration, Education, and Healthcare.
But while Hispanics care deeply about the most pressing issues facing the country, and a whopping 86 percent of Latinos agree that the upcoming presidential elections are very important and intend to vote, Hispanics typically have low voter turnout rates. Of eligible Latino voters, less than half turned out to vote in 2012. This turnout rate leaves some wondering if their voice will be heard in the upcoming presidential elections.
As Latino Millennials graduate from high school and college, begin entering the workforce, or move up in their careers, their concerns becomes increasingly more important. Their voice becomes louder. Low voter turnout rates leave some policy makers thinking that this group can continue to be ignored. It can also lead lawmakers to think that they do not have to work as hard to attend to their needs or that their vote is guaranteed because of their party affiliations. Since Millennial Latinos are the largest minority youth voting bloc in the country, there needs to be a restructuring of how policy makers speak to the community. They can no longer ignore the key issues of jobs, the economy, spending, immigration, and healthcare. Latinos have the ability to change the current trajectory of our nation, but only if they make their voices heard.