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U.S.-born young Latinos drive growth as Hispanic electorate reaches new high

Three million more Latinos will have turned 18 between the last midterm elections and this one, part of what has fueled a growth in the Hispanic electorate to a new high.
Voters gather in a campaigning area outside the Hamilton County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Cincinnati.John Minchillo / AP

AUSTIN, Texas — Young U.S.-born Latinos are driving the growth of the Latino electorate, with 3 million more having turned 18 between the last midterm elections and this one, according to Pew Hispanic Research Center.

According to Pew, a new high of 29.1 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the midterms this year, about 13 percent of the electorate. An additional 4 million Hispanics became eligible to vote since 2014.

The additional Latinos adds to the urgency of both political parties having to consider whether their voter outreach is tailored for a generation that is coming of age under a Trump presidency and during high-stakes midterms as the GOP controls Washington and most state governments.

Republicans are in control of the House, Senate and White House. Thirty-three states are led by Republican governors and 31 state legislatures are controlled by the GOP. Midterm elections also include some state leadership and legislative races.

Cristóbal Alex is president of the Latino Victory Fund, which works to get more Hispanics to run for elected office and become more politically engaged, including through voting.

"Party committees and groups that make hard choices about where to spend limited resources need to make the right investments," Alex said.

"When the path to victory depends on the Latino vote, making the real investment to fully engage the community — like you would a swing voter segment — is absolutely critical," Alex said.

History has shown that a good number of those eligible voters don't show up to vote.

Latino voter turnout has been on the decline since 2006, hitting a new low in 2014 of 27 percent compared to 45.8 for white voters.

Although turnout has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, Latino turnout already was lower than other groups and the decline has widened the gap from a difference of 17.4 percentage points in 2010 to an 18.8 point difference in 2014, the last year of national elections that did not include a presidential race.

For Latinos to become a stronger voting force, more young Latinos have to vote. In 2014, 16 percent of Latinos 18 to 35 voted.

Young Hispanics are 44 percent of the Latino electorate, and young Latinos are also 18.1 percent of all U.S. eligible voters 18 to 35.

According to Pew, seven-in-10 Latino eligible voters live in the six states of California, (7.7 million), Texas (5.4 million), Florida (3.0 million), New York (2.0 million), Arizona (1.1 million) and Illinois (1.0 million). The highest share of eligible voters who are Latino is in New Mexico, although the number is smaller, 637,000.

Deadlines to register to vote vary by state; there is still time to register in California or Illinois but deadlines in Florida, Texas and Arizona have passed.