The NiLP Network on Latino Issues (October 14, 2014)
With the November 4th midterm elections in New York State for statewide and state legislative seats coming up, we thought it would be useful to provide a description of the size and characteristics of the state’s Latino electorate. The following NiLP Latino Data note is based on the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of Voting and Registration for 2008.
In 2008, the election that first brought Andrew Cuomo to the governorship, 516,000 Latinos voted, representing 9.0 percent of the state’s total voters. Although in 2010 the Census counted more than 3.4 million Latinos residing in New York, comprising 17 percent of the state’s population, the fact that only half of that percentage is represented in the state’s electorate is due to a number of factors. These include the large number of noncitizens, the youthfulness of this population, their generally lower socioeconomic status and the lack of effective mobilization vehicles, among others. Based on the latest Census estimates, we estimate that in 2014 the state’s Latino
population has grown to 3.6 million, an increase of 5.6 percent since 2010. This compares to an estimated increase during this same period of only 1.4 percent among non-Latinos. The result, all things being equal, is that the Latino share of the state’s electorate has grown to between 10 and 11 percent of total eligible voters this year.
In terms of voter registration rates for the citizen voting age population and voter turnout rates for those registered, except for Asians, Latinos have the lowest levels of electoral mobilization in New York State. In 2008, only 51.8 percent of Latinos of citizen voting age were registered to vote, and of those registered, 62.2 percent voted. We estimate that to bring up the Latino rate of voter registration to match that of the state’s total would have required registering an additional 200,000 Latinos.
Latino registration and voter turnout rates are about the same as for Latinos nationally, but significantly lower than for non-Latinos.
Compared to other states with the largest Latino populations, however, New York Latino voter registration and turnout rates rank relatively low — 9th in registration and 7th in voter turnout.
Making up over 10 percent of the New York State electorate this year, the Latino vote does not represent the full electoral potential of this community. We estimate that to make Latino voter registration reach parity with the state’s overall average would require a minimum of 200,000 Latino registrants, and that is without factoring the normal churning of these registration numbers that usually occur. While this year’ statewide races do not appear to be very competitive, the impact of the Latino vote on their outcomes will be minimal. This lack of competitiveness along with national development such as the growing Latino cynicism about President Obama’s deportation policies, will serve to dampen Latino turnout, thus make the challenges of voter mobilization in this community extremely challenging this year, especially given the scale of the participation gaps that currently exists. This is a situation where Latino political leaders need to focus more on legislation and executive actions to remove institutional barriers to participation as well as generate resources to educate and mobilize Latino voters during both registration and get-out-the-vote phases at a scale large enough to make a difference.
The NiLP Network on Latino Issues is a nonpartisan online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP). For further information, visit www.latinopolicy.org.