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The Race for President: Will the Hispanic Vote Matter?

September 19, 2016
Plain English Version
People vote on Election Day 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

People vote on Election Day 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

There are 27 million Hispanic voters. The question is why so few of them vote.

The answer is not simple. Three groups of people are at the lower end of the American economy. They are Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans.

Latinos who do vote are like other American voters. They are older. They are long-time residents. They are college graduates. They are Puerto Rican and Cuban.

Latinos who are least likely to vote are thirty years of age or younger. They are single. They earn lower incomes. Many have not finished high school. They are Mexican.

What are the roles of income and education in voting?

Blacks have a higher rate of poverty than Hispanics. In 2012, blacks had the highest voting rate in the nation. Asians hold more education degrees that Hispanics. Asians have a lower voting than do Hispanics.

So income and education do not explain everything. Here is what one researcher found.

Language is a big reason. People who have trouble with English are less likely to vote. A large number of Hispanics and Asians have trouble with English.

Another reason is the end of the “old days.” The era when politicians were more important than elected officials. Politicians ran the party machinery that picked candidates. Their power came from the ability to get out voters. Primary elections replaced the “bosses.”

Passage of “Voting Rights” laws of a half-century ago made a difference. The laws were to increase the number of black voters in Southern states. Hispanics and Asians were not included in the first laws.

There is another reason. Many schools no longer teach civics. Voting was part of learning how to be a good citizen. This hurts Latinos most. Many are in families that do not talk about politics. When schools and homes ignore politics, it reduces interest.

One other big reason is culture. If voting was not a big part of life in the old country, it is less likely to be important in the new country.

Hispanic and Asian voters do not belong to one Party. Many Latino voters are conservatives who are against abortion.

Democrats are working hard to get out the Latino vote this year. Donald Trump has made remarks that are seen as hostile to Hispanics.

Is this the year the Latino vote will turn out and make a difference?

Source: The New York Times September 18, 2016

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