The Political Power Of The Latino Vote

New election simulations project the growing importance of the Latino vote.

New Election Simulations Project The Growing Importance Of The Latino Vote

It’s no secret that the face of the American electorate is changing. The United States is, against the apparent will of many conservative leaders, undergoing a historic demographic shift: People of color are expected to make up a majority of the population by 2044. The most significant of these demographic shifts is the increase in Latino voters’ share of the electorate, which, as we know, will have a significant impact on the political landscape.

A new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund uses election simulations to predict just how big of a role Latino voters will play in the 2016 elections, at both the state and federal level. In 2012, Latino voters—71 percent of whom supported President Obama—created a firewall for democrats in key states. For example, in Colorado, the increased share of Latino voters was enough to win Democrats the state, despite the fact that white voters support for President Obama had dropped 6 percentage points from the previous election.

And, as CAP Action’s new report explains, the Latino electorate is poised to play an even larger role in the 2016 presidential election. The report conducted an electoral simulation of the six states with the largest projected share of Latino eligible voters in 2016, where 2012 exit polling data was available. The charts below provide a snapshot of some of the report’s findings:

In 2016, the United States will pass an important threshold: more than 30 percent of eligible voters will be voters of color for the first time in U.S. history.


In Nevada, Latino voters could make up more than a fifth of all voters, spelling trouble for Republicans. If Democrats are able to hold onto 2012 levels of support from voters of color and turnout rates remain the same in 2016 (Simulation 1 below), the Democratic margin of victory in Nevada could increase nearly 3 percentage points. Even if Republicans are able to regain their higher support levels from voters of color from 2004 as well as their high support levels from white voters from 2012 (Simulation 3), Democrats would still have a three-point margin of victory:


Florida, which President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, could be up for grabs in 2016. It may all depend on how parties can appeal to Latino voters. If Latino voters support Democrats at the same level as in 2012 (simulation 1), Democrats will win the state. If, however, their party preference goes back to 2004 levels when a majority of Latinos supported George W. Bush (simulations 2 and 3), Republicans will take the state in 2016:


BOTTOM LINE: Whether conservative lawmakers like it or not, the American electorate is changing. And if Latino voters’ party preferences for Democrats and Republicans remain as they were in 2012—which doesn’t seem out of the question given many current GOP candidates’ rhetoric around immigration and other issues important to the Latino community—Republicans have no clear path to victory. But this is far from a guarantee: turning out to vote at least at the same levels as in 2012 will be critical to translating the projected political power of Latinos into reality.

Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.