Latinos are the nation's largest minority group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 there were 51.9 million Latinos in the U.S., making up 16.7% of the nation's population. Latinos today comprise a greater share of the nation's 215 million eligible voters than they did just a few years ago----11.0% this year, up from 9.5% in 2008 and 8.2% in 2004.
However, the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters historically lags that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. In 2008, for example, 50% of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with 65% of blacks and 66% of whites. Also, despite ongoing Latino population growth, the number of Latinos who said they are registered to vote fell by about 600,000 between 2008 and 2010, according to Census Bureau data. This was the only significant decline in the number of Latino registered voters in the past two decades.
There is not yet any nationwide data on Latino voter registration levels so far in 2012. In the only four states that report such records by ethnicity----Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina----the 2012 registration levels of Hispanics have already surpassed the 2008 levels. However, these states are not necessarily representative of the nation as a whole; more so than most other states, they have experienced very rapid growth in their Hispanic population in recent years.
This report explores electoral participation trends among Hispanics in recent presidential election cycles. It also provides a snapshot of the geography and demography of the Hispanic vote in 2012, with a special focus on the so-called "battleground states." Accompanying this report are state profiles of Latino eligible voters in 41 states and the District of Columbia, each based on data from the 2010 American Community Survey. Also accompanying this report is an interactive map showing key characteristics of Latino voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The report, "A Record 24 Million Latinos Are Eligible to Vote, But Turnout Rate Has Lagged That of Whites, Blacks," authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, Seth Motel, Research Assistant, Pew Hispanic Center and Eileen Patten, Research Assistant, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website, www.pewhispanic.org.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.