The addition of a burgeoning population of Latino voters in the U.S. is making the American electorate more diverse. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to cast ballots, representing 12% of all eligible voters. This represents a record. Over the last four years, the Latino voters have increased in number by 4 million, accounting for 37% of the growth in all eligible voters during that span. Latino voters in key battleground states, such as Florida, have increased. Groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund have ensured that voting materials are available in Spanish.
 
Since the 1980s, Latino voters have favored Democrats over Republicans in every presidential race. However, their impact as a group has been limited by low voter turnout and their concentration in non-battleground states. Whether the turnout promised by Democrats and their allies among the many voter advocacy and progressive organizations is realized on Election Day remains to be seen. Canvassers are busy in places such as Orlando and Phoenix. In the former, Puerto Ricans fleeing their island homeland and its disastrous polity and economy are being snapped up by Democrats seeking to register them as Floridians. Voter registration efforts are ongoing in Arizona, Texas, and California in Latino communities.
 
According to Pew, Millennial voters constitute 44% of Latino eligible voters and are the main driver of growth in the Latino electorate. Since 2012, 3.2 million young U.S.-born Latinos turned 18 and account for 80% of the increase in Latino eligible voters during this time. Millennial voters overall favored Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the primary season.
 
Hillary Clinton gets a better reception from older Latinos than from Millennial Latinos. Two-thirds (64%) of Millennial Latinos (ages 18 to 35) who support Clinton say their support is more a vote against Donald Trump than for Clinton. The reverse is true among older, non-Millennial Latino voters (ages 36 and older), said Pew: 65% say their support of Clinton is more a vote for her than against Trump. More than half (55%) of Latino registered voters who support Clinton say their vote is more a vote for Clinton than against Trump.
 
Out of seven competitive states in the current presidential race, in only three do Latinos have a significant presence:  Arizona (22%), Florida (18%) and Nevada (17%). In the remaining four,  Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Ohio, Latinos make up only 5%. The impact of the Latino vote on the presidential race, said Pew, is diminished because more than half (52%) of all Latino eligible voters live in the non-battleground states of California, Texas and New York.
 
Among Latino voters, 57% say they are dissatisfied with the course of the country this year, according to Pew. This represents an increase from 50% in 2012. Latinos born in the U.S. are more dissatisfied than immigrants: 63% to 45%.
 
Pew found that a slightly lower share of Latino registered voters say they are sure they will vote this year compared with four years ago. This year, 69% of Latinos are “absolutely certain” they will vote, which represents a downturn from 77% in 2012. In past elections, the Latino voter turnout rate has lagged that of other groups. For example, in 2012 Latinos had a turnout rate of 48%, compared with 67% for blacks and 64% for whites.
 
While Latinos have long viewed the Democratic Party as having more concern for them than the Republican Party, their views of Democrats have fluctuated. In 2016, 54% of Latino registered voters say the Democratic Party has more concern for Latinos than the Republican Party, said Pew, while 11% say the same of the GOP. Democrats have maintained this advantage since 2012, though the share of Latinos who say Democrats have more concern for Latinos has declined modestly since then, when 61% said this. About one-in-four Latino voters say there is no difference between the parties on this measure.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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