Largest Latino Voting Bloc Has Grown in Southeast US
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mexican migration is changing the “Face of the South”
NEW YORK, May 18, 2016 – The Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s Center for Latin America, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) has issued its fifth Latino voter report in partnership with CNN en Español which focuses on the Southeastern states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The CLACLS report Latino Demography and Voter Registration and Participation Rates in the Southeast: North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, 1990-2016 shows that the Southeast had the fastest growing Latino population in the United States between 1990 and 2014, the last year systematic census data are available.
“The changing face of the South has been shaped by the substantial growth of the Latino population in the Southeastern states that has been driven by the constant arrival of Mexicans and their extraordinary demographic increase,” said Laird W. Bergad, author of the report and director of CLACLS. “However Latino influence on elections has not been commensurate with the impact on demographic structures because Latinos accounted for only 3.7 percent of the total electorate in the three states in 2014 despite comprising 8.8 percent of the total population.”
According to the report’s findings, nearly 67 percent of Latinos who were 18 years or older were foreign-born and 51 percent were not citizens in 2014. Thus, while constituting a fairly large total population, especially in North Carolina and Georgia, the Latino electorate was much smaller than overall population numbers.
This will change in the future as the Latino population ages. About 90 percent of all Latinos 18 years and younger in the three states were born in the U.S. in 2014 and 93 percent were citizens of the U.S. who will be eligible to vote once they turn 18 (see Table II).
In 1990 there were approximately 205,000 Latinos living in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia combined, accounting for only 1.2 percent of the overall population in these states. In 2014 nearly 2.2 million Latinos lived in the three states making up 8.8 percent of the total population.
Georgia and North Carolina’s Latino populations were approaching one million in each state and South Carolina had about 273,000 Latinos in 2014.
Latino Voter Participation in the Southeast for the General Election
North Carolina is distinguished by the fact that Latino voter registration rates, at 68 percent of eligible Latino voters in 2012, were significantly above the national average of 58 percent. CLACLS projects that 2.9% of all votes to be cast in the 2016 election will be by Latinos.
CLACLS projects that as many as 3.9 percent of all ballots to be cast in November 2016 in Georgia may be by Latinos. Still they will have little impact on the outcome in the state which voted 53 percent Republican to 45 percent Democratic in the 2012 elections, unless the election is very close in the state.
Because of very low voter registration rates in South Carolina and a relatively small Latino population compared with North Carolina and Georgia, CLACLS projects that Latinos will be less than 1 percent of the total voting population in November 2016.
North Carolina Demographics and Latino Voter Registration
- In North Carolina in 1990 there were only about 31,000 Mexicans; by 2014 there were over 570,000 Mexicans and they accounted for 62 percent of all Latinos in the state.
- The Latino electorate in the North Carolina increased from a scant 38,000 eligible voters and 0.8 percent of the electorate in 1990 to 255,000 and 3.5 percent of the state’s total electorate in 2014.
- In North Carolina voter participation rates were very low in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections but these soared to 65 percent in 2008 probably because of the Obama candidacy. Although they fell to 56 percent in 2012, CLACLS projects that they may reach as high as 65 percent voting in 2016.
- Latinos are projected to be nearly 3 percent of actual voters in North Carolina in November 2016 and could be a potentially decisive swing vote in a tight election. Mitt Romney carried North Carolina by only 2 percentage points in 2012.
South Carolina Demographics and Latino Voter Registration
- The growth of the Latino population in South Carolina was driven by the constant arrival of Mexicans. In 1990 there were only about 10,000 Mexicans in South Carolina; by 2014 there were over 167,000 Mexicans and they accounted for 61 percent of all Latinos in the state.
- Latinos have very little influence over political decision making in South Carolina because they have been less than 1 percent of active voters in presidential elections from 1992 through 2012.
Georgia Demographics and Latino Voter Registration
- Georgia Latinos were a fractional 0.2 percent of all voters in the 1992 election and even by 2004 comprised less than 1 percent of all voters in the state.
- Georgia’s Latinos increased because of the constant arrival of Mexicans to the state similar to North and South Carolina. In 1990 there were about 49,000 Mexicans in the state; by 2014 there were over 624,000 Mexicans and they accounted for 63 percent of all Latinos in Georgia.
- Because of demographic expansion and the growth of voting-eligible Latinos born in the U.S., and increased Latino registration rates most likely because of the Obama candidacy, by 2008 about 3 percent of the votes cast in the state were by Latinos. This rate fell to 2.7 percent in 2012.
CLACLS’s flagship program is the Latino Data Project, established in 2003 by Laird W. Bergad founding and current CLACLS director. The Latino Data Project conducts detailed quantitative research on the Latino population of the United States and New York City metropolitan region, analyzing raw data files produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.
About the CNN en Español and the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Partnership:
CNN en Español and the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), have partnered to provide an exclusive focus on Latino voters in America, the fastest growing minority voting bloc that could play an instrumental role in determining the next President of the United States. Through rigorous academic research generated by CLACLS’ Latino Data Project, CNN en Español will broadcast detailed reports about Latinos in the American elections over several multi-media platforms geared toward Spanish-speaking audiences around the world, including 7.4 million U.S. households.
FOR A COPY OF THE REPORT CONTACT THE FOLLOWING:
Isabel Bucaram, US
305 400 6806
Mariana Pinango, LatAm
404 827 3803
The Graduate Center, CUNY
212 817 7283
Submitted on: MAY 18, 2016