The influence of Hispanics in U.S. elections may be growing, specifically that of Hispanic millennials.
Millennials, generally defined as those born in 1981 or later, make up 44 percent of the record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters for 2016, according to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday. That means there are more Hispanic millennials than millennials in any other racial or ethnic group.
Young Latinos' numbers have been proportionally significant for some years now. By 2000, 43 percent of Hispanic eligible voters were between 18 and 35 years old. The share has remained steady since then.
In 2016, a projected 11.9 million Hispanic millennials will be eligible to participate in elections.
And Latinos are projected to make up a record 11.9 percent of all U.S. eligible voters in this year’s presidential election. The Latino vote, therefore, could have a bigger effect this year, although it is still likely to be underrepresented in comparison with those of other racial groups, the Pew study said.
There are several factors to blame, Pew said. One of them is that turnout rates for Latinos have historically been lower than those of other groups. In 2012, less than 48 percent of Hispanic eligible voters went to the polls, whereas 64.1 percent of whites and 66.6 percent of blacks cast votes.
Lower rate for millennials
Hispanic millennials are even less likely to vote. In 2012, just 36.8 percent of Latino millennials voted, while 47.5 percent of white millennials and 55 percent of black millennials went to the polls.
Latino millennials also register to vote at a lower rate than any other demographic bloc. Only 50 percent of Hispanic millennial eligible voters said they had registered to go to the polls in 2012.
Another reason Latinos might not vote is that few states with heavy Hispanic populations will be battleground states in the 2016 presidential election. Hispanic voters are less likely to be courted by candidates in states like California, Texas and New York. This reduces the likelihood of that bloc showing up and voting. Those three states account for 52 percent of all Latino eligible voters in 2016.
Florida, Nevada and Colorado, however, are likely to be battleground states. The eligible voting population in each of those states is more than 14 percent Hispanic.
If Hispanic millennials were to turn out in those states, they could be a substantial influence in this year's election. Historically, Hispanics have leaned heavily Democratic.