Why don’t Hispanic registered voters vote?

What’s up with Hispanic voters?

The Pew Center, which puts out a dizzying number of surveys, is out with one today that claims Hispanic voters are less likely to vote in the upcoming election than they were in 2008, and hints that Latinos are the exception to the rule.

Says NPR:

In 2008, Hispanics’ 2-to-1 support for Barack Obama’s presidential bid was credited with making the difference in four crucial swing states: Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. This year, analysts say Latinos could be key in dozens of congressional races. The Pew survey finds 65 percent favor the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district. By wide margins, Latinos also say the Democratic Party has more concern for Hispanics than the GOP does.

However, this lopsided show of support could have less impact if it turns out that 2008’s strong showing was a blip, and Latinos revert to their traditionally lower turnout levels.

There’s not a lot of surprise there. In mid-term elections, fewer people usually turn out to vote.

But it’s this assertion by Pew that is most interesting:

However, Hispanic registered voters appear to be less motivated than other voters to go to the polls. Just one-third (32%) of all Latino registered voters say they have given this year’s election “quite a lot” of thought. In contrast, half (50%) of all registered voters say the same. And when it comes to their intent to vote, half (51%) of Latino registered voters say they are absolutely certain they will vote in this year’s midterm election, while seven-in-ten (70%) of all registered voters say the same.

In recent midterm elections, Latinos have voted at lower rates than white non-Hispanics and black non-Hispanics, Pew says. “In 2006, one-third (32%) of Latino eligible voters (ages 18 or older and a U.S. citizen) said they voted. In comparison, more than half of white non-Hispanic eligible voters and more than four-in-ten (41%) black non-Hispanic voters said they voted.”

But while 70% of registered voters said they were “absolute certain” they would vote, 70% of all registered voters rarely do.

Even in Minnesota, which always has one of the highest turnout rates in the country (if not the highest), only about 60% of all voters vote, according to this graphic from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.


When Pew last did a mid-term survey like this — the last mid-term was 2006 — it found that the percentage of Latinos who are eligible to vote, is quite low.


But that’s not much of a factor in Minnesota, where 72% of the Hispanic population was eligible to vote.

So why don’t they It’s not because the immigration issue hasn’t been talked about much in this campaign. Hispanic voters rank education, jobs and health care as their top three issues of concern for this year’s congressional campaign, according to Pew.

The New York Times suggests that Latino voters are more disillusioned with the political process than whites, blacks, and Asians. It suggests that the furor surrounding the Arizona immigration law may have turned Latino voters off while energizing white voters.

MPR’s Midmorning will tackle the issue tomorrow at 9:45.

  • I’m sure all the Republican and “independent” voter suppression groups have nothing to do with this.

    I wonder how many white voters would stay home if they knew there was a chance they’d be confronted and challenged by self-appointed anti-immigration vigilantes at their polling place?

    In Texas this is pretty overt and it’s hard for me to believe that suppression efforts there don’t resonate nationwide.


  • Jim Shapiro

    Boy, I’m probably gonna get clobbered for this one, but what the hell:

    Often times stereotypes are based on a less offensive reality. There is some truth to the “manana” nature of hispanic culture.

    Perhaps those surveyed had not given the elections quite a lot of thought YET.

    ( Before you start to throw stones, I would simply ask how many Latin American countries you have lived in, how many hispanic friends you have, and whether you speak spanish. In other words, how well do you understand the culture? 🙂

  • No clobbering intended, but I think the things you’re thinking about speak more to year round hot temps than they do anything else. Go far enough south and the “work ethic” picks up pretty quickly. Go east or west around the equator and you’ll find the same “culture.”

    Hot is hot and if you’re doing physical work, it slows you down. I also spend a lot of time picking up supplies at a Chinese warehouse that has an exclusively Hispanic warehouse workforce. Those guys hustle no two ways about it.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Good point, Mark. I, too am an adherent to the climate theory of development.