Aug 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Where immigrants will have the most voting power in 2020

Data: New American Economy; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: New American Economy; Chart: Axios Visuals

Immigrant voters could be pivotal this fall to election outcomes in some battleground suburbs, according to a new analysis of county-level Census data reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Texas, Georgia and Virginia as well as Florida could see swings with statewide or national implications. Congressional races to watch include Texas' 22nd district, Georgia's 7th and California's 39th, 45th, and 48th — reaching into counties where immigrants comprise around one in five eligible voters, according to the analysis by New American Economy (NAE).

The big picture: Growing and spreading immigrant populations have helped shift the political landscape in recent years. Foreign-born voters will make up nearly one-tenth of the electorate in 2020 — a record percentage.

Be smart: Not all immigrants vote alike, but growing foreign-born populations are expected to help Democrats amid President Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.

Between the lines: Immigrant voting power is growing beyond cities to surrounding counties — including some where House seats flipped in 2018, NAE's director of quantitative research Andrew Lim told Axios.

  • "I think for many years past it was just regarded as a big city issue," Lim said. "That is clearly no longer the case."

What to watch: Johnson and Polk counties in Iowa are emerging as new immigrant hubs. Immigrants also are moving to less-expected places such as Twin Falls, Idaho (8.5%) and Cass County, North Dakota (6.8%).

  • Non-white foreign-born voters are also more likely to turn out to vote than U.S.-born racial and ethnic minorities, according to Pew Research Center.
  • But coronavirus restrictions and delays mean more than 300,000 immigrants who would have been eligible to vote in November likely won't be, said pro-immigration group Boundless.
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