Latino Demography and Voter Registration and Participation Rates in the Southwest: 1990-2016


NEW YORK, July 11, 2016 – The Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s Center for Latin America, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) has issued its sixth Latino voter report in partnership with CNN en Español  which examines the demographic changes and voting and registration patterns among Latinos in the Southwestern states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
The CLACLS report Latino Demography and Voter Registration and Participation Rates in the Southwest: 1990–2016 shows that these three states lay claim to approximately one-quarter of all Latinos living in the United States as of 2014, according to U.S. census data and 25 percent of all eligible Latino voters in the nation.
While the Latino population and electorate in these states have substantially increased in recent decades, Latinos have yet to realize their maximum political potential because of low voter registration and participation rates.
“Why don’t Latinos vote?” asked Laird W. Bergad, author of the report and director of CLACLS.  “It’s not that they don’t vote. It’s that they don’t register to vote.”
FINDING (TEXAS): High percentage of potential Latino voters in Texas Latinos of Mexican-origin and were born in the U.S., thus eligible to vote. However, because of low registration and turnout rates, they are not exercising their potential political influence. CLACLS projects that Latinos will comprise 24 percent of all Texas voters in November 2016. This increase is due to demographic growth, not increased participation rates.
FACT: The Latino electorate in Texas increased from 2 million, at 18 percent of the state’s electorate in 1990, to 4.8 million eligible voters, at 28 percent of the Texas electorate in 2014. Further, voter registration rates were about 53 percent in 2008 and 2012, below the national average of about 59 percent. Because of this low registration rate, only 39 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots in 2012. CLACLS projects these numbers will remain relatively unchanged in the 2016 presidential election. This is not expected to change in November 2016. Mexican-origin persons comprised 89 percent of all Texas Latinos in 2014 and 71 percent of them were born in the U.S.
FINDING (ARIZONA): Similar to Texas, Latinos of Mexican-origin comprise large percentage of eligible Latino voters. Arizona Latinos had very low voter registration rates at about 52 percent of all eligible Latino voters in 2008 and 2012. This is not expected to change in 2016. Because of these low registration rates only 37% of   eligible Latino voters actually voted in Arizona in 2008; 40% in 2012; and CLACLS projects that about 41% will vote in November 2016.
FACT: The demographic increase in Arizona’s Latino population paralleled the trajectory in Texas.  In 1990 there were about 680,000 Latinos in Arizona comprising 19 percent of the state’s population.  By 2014 Latinos numbered slightly over 2 million and made up 31 percent of the total population of the state.
FINDING (NEW MEXICO): Latinos in New Mexico both registered and voted at rates that were significantly above national averages
FACT:  Since 2004, about 64 percent of all Latinos in New Mexico have been registered to vote above the national average of about 59 percent. In 2012, 56 percent of all eligible Latino voters cast ballots, also well above the 48 percent national average.
CLACLS Projects:

  • In Texas because only 39 percent of Latinos voted in 2012, it is expected that these numbers will remain relatively unchanged in November 2016.
  • In Arizona, an increase of 1 percent to 41 percent of Latino voters will cast a ballot in November 2016; and
  • In New Mexico, 36 percent of all votes cast in November 2016 will be by Latino voters.
The CLACLS Report Recommendations:
  • With the 2016 presidential general election fast approaching, pundits and stakeholders would be wise to note that while New Mexico is an ever-expanding stronghold for the Latino electorate, Latinos in Texas and Arizona have not realized the potential extent of their political power and influence.
  • Organizations working with Latino groups in Texas and Arizona would do well to promote voter registration and communicate to Latinos the potential impact of their electorate. Arizona and Texas have been solid Republican states despite the fact that over 70 percent of Latinos voted Democratic in the last presidential election.  As the Latino population continues to grow as well as the Latino electorate, it is theoretically possible that these two Republican states could turn Democratic.  But this will only occur if Latino voter registration and voting rates increase to levels commensurate with the other major race/ethnic groups in each state.

The 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.
To find out more about the CLACLS Latino Data Project visit


Press Contacts:
CNN Communications
Isabel Bucaram, US
305 400 6806
Mariana Pinango, LatAm
404 827 3803
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Tanya Domi
212 817 7283

Submitted on: JUL 11, 2016

Category: Press Room