Millennials Will Make Up Almost Half of the Latino Electorate in 2016

Millennials Will Make Up Almost Half of the Latino Electorate in 2016
Corbis

The Latino electorate is bigger than it’s ever been, and that’s mostly thanks to young people.

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According to a recent Pew Research Center report, milliennials will account for 44 percent of eligible Latino voters in the 2016 presidential election, leaving many community leaders worried.

While millennial Latinos are more educated than any other generation of U.S. Hispanics, young people, particularly young Latinos, don’t show up to the polls in great numbers. In fact, the study found that Latino milliennials register to vote at lower rates than other milliennials. In 2012, for instance, just 50 percent of eligible young Hispanics registered to vote. That’s compared to 61 percent of white millennials and 64 percent of black millennials.

"This does present a number of challenges because of the relative size of the youth vote," Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research, said. For Lopez, the difficulties include getting young people motivated to vote, teaching them how to get registered and making sure that they do, and then getting them to the polls for the 2016 presidential election and for the ones that follow over the next two decades.

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The 3.2 million young Latinos now eligible to cast their ballot aren’t swelling the Latino electorate alone, however. Immigrant Latinos who are in U.S. legally and become U.S. citizens, as some 1.2 million naturalized from 2012 to 2016, are the second-largest source. The more than hundred thousand of Puerto Ricans fleeing their island’s economic crisis and migrating to the U.S. mainland are also new eligible voters, with their biggest impact expected in Florida, a swing state.