Mar 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

First look: Young and unaffiliated Latino voters surge across U.S.

Latino voters wait in line to drop off mail-in ballots at an early voting location in Phoenix, Arizona on October 16, 2022. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

First-time Latino voters are outpacing first-time non-Latino voters in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Texas, according to a report first obtained by Axios.

The big picture: Nonpartisan and unaffiliated Latino voters are on the verge of becoming one of the biggest swing voter groups in the U.S. — raising the stakes for early and regular engagement from both parties.

  • The 2022 election showed the GOP making significant gains among Latinos in Florida but falling well below expectations in Texas, as predicted.

Details: The percentage of early Latino voters between ages 18 and 34 jumped in Arizona, Nevada, New York, and Texas, according to a TelevisaUnivision/L2 analysis reviewed by Axios.

  • Unaffiliated Latino voters now represent the largest percentage of Latino voters in Florida.
  • Nonpartisan Hispanic registered voters represent a larger percentage than non-partisan non-Hispanic voters in states like Arizona and Nevada.

State of play: The number of Latinos, which includes people of any race, was 62.1 million in 2020 — a growth of 23% in a decade, according to the U.S. Census.

  • Exit polls for U.S. House races in 2022 showed 60% of Latinos backed Democrats while 39% voted for Republicans.
  • John F. Kennedy won as much as 90% of the Latino vote in 1960, and Jimmy Carter took 82% in 1976.

Between the lines: Latino voting behavior is much more unpredictable and depends on the political dynamics of their local regions, L2 executive vice president Paul Westcott told Axios.

  • California Latinos tend to lean more Democratic and Florida Hispanics more Republican, but that could change, Westcott said.
  • "This shows that candidates need to get their messages out early and need to go after younger Latino voters," Michele Day, TelevisaUnivision's senior vice president for its Political, Advocacy & Government Group, told Axios.

What's next: Westcott said the 2024 presidential election will likely see record Latino voter turnout and could offer more surprises if parties don't engage.

Don't forget: A preliminary analysis by the research firm Equis suggests Democrats in 2022 kept just enough Latino voter support to win critical state and federal races in Arizona, Nevada, and Texas — while faltering in Florida.

  • Democrats didn't lose as much ground with Latino voters as some predicted — at least for now — staving off significant GOP wins in Texas while holding ground in Arizona and Nevada.
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