An analysis of new Census Bureau voting data from November 2010 shows that Hispanic turnout conformed to the pattern of recent midterm elections.
Before the 2010 election some commentators argued that the failure to address immigration would increase Hispanic turnout, others argued it would cause them to stay home. The new data shows that neither of these predictions were correct. The analysis is available at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Among the findings:
- Prior to the 2010 election, the Center for Immigration Studies projected that Hispanics would comprise 6.8 percent of the national electorate in congressional elections. The new Census Bureau data match this projection, with Hispanics comprising 6.9 percent of the vote.
- The projection was correct because it was based on the assumption that Hispanic turnout would follow past patterns and that they would be neither especially animated nor especially disengaged in 2010.
- The 31.2 percent of Hispanic citizens who voted in 2010 is very similar to the 32.2 percent who voted in the 2006 mid-term election and the 31.2 percent who voted in the 2002 mid-term election. All of these values fall within the margin of error of +/- 1.7 percentage points and indicate that 2010 was not unusual.
- In addition to the 6.9 percent of voters who identified as Hispanic in the 2010 election, 77.5 percent of voters identified as non-Hispanic white, 11.5 percent as non-Hispanic black, and 2.4 percent as non- Hispanic Asian.
- Hispanics are a much smaller share of voters than they are of the general population. In November 2010, Hispanics were 16.3 percent of the total U.S. population, 14.1 percent of the adult population, 10.1 percent of the adult citizen population, and 6.9 percent of those who voted.
- The size of the Hispanic vote varied significantly by state. In 2010, Hispanics were less than 5 percent of the vote in 39 states plus the District of Columbia, and more than 10 percent of the vote in only five states (New Mexico, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida).
- Polling of Hispanics indicates that immigration is not one of their top issues. Like other voters, education, jobs, healthcare, and the federal deficit all rank above immigration in importance.
- This does not mean immigration is unimportant to Hispanics. It does mean it was not an issue that was important enough in 2010 to have a discernable impact on their overall turnout.
- Only 27 percent of Hispanic voters in the 2010 election were immigrants themselves (naturalized U.S. citizens) and just 14.9 percent lived in the same household as a non-citizen. The lack of direct personal experience with immigration may explain why the issue does not rank higher in importance to Hispanic voters.
- CNN's national exit polls showed that in 2010, 60 percent of Hispanics voted for Democrats and 38 percent voted for Republicans. This compares to 69 percent and 30 percent in the last mid-term election in 2006. If the failure to address immigration played a role in Hispanic voting, it seems to have helped Republicans.
- However, the increase in the Republican share of the Hispanic vote in 2010 is almost certainly related to general voter dissatisfaction with the economy and the Democrats, and it parallels gains that Republicans made among many demographic groups.
The data for this analysis come from the public use file of the Voting and Registration Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS) collected by Census Bureau, which contains about 100,000 adults. The Voting and Registration supplement is conducted in November every other year after Election Day. The public-use file of this data was recently released. Among other questions, the survey asks individuals if they are registered and if they voted. The Hispanic and race questions are separate. Hispanics are individuals in the CPS who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino, which means that they or their ancestors came from a country that derives its language and culture from Spain.