Latin American Flags MA

The flags of Chile, Uruguay and Puerto Rico were displayed during the Spanish Graduate Association's Hispanic Heritage Month event on Sept. 19 in Trevor Colbourn Hall. 

Hispanics are projected to become the largest voting minority group for the first time in American history, according to data on the 2020 electorate released Jan. 30 by the Pew Research Center.

By 2020, Hispanics will account for just over 13 percent of eligible voters. Thirty-two million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2020, compared with 30 million blacks, according to the report. 

Since 2016, Hispanic registered voters in Florida have more than tripled compared to all newly registered voters, according to a Pew Research report released in October 2018. This growth is based on a two-year time period. 

Puerto Rican voters in Florida

Puerto Ricans have been the state's fastest-growing Hispanic group in the past decade. Experts have estimated that about 30,000 to 50,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. It is unclear whether the recent migration has caused this small increase in Hispanic registered voters in the election cycle.

The number of island-born Puerto Ricans eligible to vote in Florida has increased by 30 percent — about 126,000 people — since 2016. 

Hispanic voter registration has grown faster than the statewide average of 6.2 percent in 14 of the 18 Florida counties with the largest Puerto Rican populations, the report said. Among them are Lake, Volusia, Seminole, Polk, and Osceola. 

One percent of eligible voters in 2020 will have been born outside the U.S. — the highest share since at least 1970. 

Demographic change and electorate vote states 

Political science professor Terri Fine said the 2019 Pew Research report focuses on a demographic change and it matters because Hispanics will continue to grow.

“A larger percentage among Hispanics who are Catholic compared to whites and African-Americans and Catholics have a higher birth rate,” she said. "Consequently, we have a larger share of the electorate." 

In 2016, Hispanics accounted for 11.9 percent of the electorate, while African-Americans were 12.5 percent and are expected to remain the same in 2020.

Hispanics will outnumber blacks among eligible voters in 2020, however, they may not cast more ballots due to different turnout patterns. The number of Latino eligible voters who didn't vote has exceeded the number of those who did vote in every presidential election since 1996. 

President Donald Trump won two of the largest electoral vote states including Florida, which is a swing state.

Fine adds that Hispanics are concentrated in highly populated areas when it comes to the Electoral College. 

"The political impact is two-fold," she said. "Hispanics are largely concentrated in the four largest electoral vote states. The largest population states are the four largest electoral vote states, which are Florida, Texas, California and New York.”

Each of these four states has the same winner-takes-all rule, meaning the candidate who receives a majority of the popular vote wins that state. 

Nonwhite voters were more likely to back Democrat Hillary Clinton, while white voters were more likely to back Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to the 2019 Pew Research report.

Since the 2016 election, Florida Hispanics were more likely to register as Democrat or having no party affiliation rather than registering Republican. The number of Hispanics who registered as Democrat had more than doubled compared to those who registered as Republicans, a 2018 Pew Research report states

UCF students and Hispanic electorate growth. 

Martin Perez, senior political science major and member of the Marion County Democrats, said he feels that national issues are causing the increase in Hispanic voters.

“I’m Mexican-American," Perez, 24, said. "I got involved in 2016 and I heard Trump talking about Mexicans as rapists and all the other hurtful things. I felt like [it was] my duty to get involved. For example, you have Trump emphasizing the border wall recently —  it was a big part of causing the shutdown this year, and that’s one of the issues bringing out voters." 

Alexander Zimmerman, senior history major and a member of College Republicans at UCF, said he believes one cause of growth for Hispanics in the electorate is their higher birth rate.

“What I see as being the cause is that they're the largest form of legal immigration currently coming into the country,” Zimmerman said. “They tend to be more religious than other groups, including the majority, and that tends to mean that you have a larger family. Then that leads to them being a growing minority.”

Young Latinx Voters and Identification

Pew Research also states, in the October 2018 report, younger Latinos made up a large share of the Hispanic electorate. About 43.5 percent of all Hispanic eligible voters in 2018 were 18 to 35 years old, compared with 30.6 percent of all U.S. eligible voters.

Hispanics also account for a significant share of young eligible voters nationwide. They make up about one-fifth, or a little over 18 percent, of all U.S. eligible voters ages 18 to 35, but just 10.4 percent of eligible voters ages 36 and older, according to Pew Research

Fine also cited that identification plays a big role in the voting population, especially with young voters.

“One of the things that scholars have found is that young people tend to have a higher voter turnout rate in general elections compared to midterm elections because they are single-issue voters,” Fine said. “They say 'where does the candidate stand on this one issue that matters most to me?'”

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