Latino Influence on Midterms Remains Limited

A big new Pew Hispanic Trends Project analysis entitled “Latino Voters and the 2014 Midterm Elections” is out, and there’s nothing surprising in it other than a general reminder of why Latino influence in midterms is typically less than you might imagine.

Latinos are disproportionately concentrated in two states (CA and TX) where statewide elections typically aren’t very competitive. Their relatively low turnout rate (in 2010, 31% of eligible voters as opposed to 44% for African-Americans and 48% for whites) is partially attributable to an unusually young voting-age population. And Latinos will only represent more than 5% of eligible voters in two of the 2010 Senate battlegrounds, Colorado (14%) and more surprisingly, Kansas (6%).

Still, on November 4 it’s certain the Latino percentage of the electorate will again increase thanks to population growth, and at some point in the next decade the age of the Latino voting age population will drift significantly higher, boosting turnout rates. Action or inaction by the two parties on issues of concern to Latinos will determine who that helps or hurts, and how much. Suffice it to say that if the President uses executive powers to significantly expand DACA between now and 2016, and congressional Republicans go to extra mile to try to stop him, we’ll be talking a lot more about Latinos as a crucial factor in the next cycle–and not just as some sort of future hypothetical.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.