NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR (Virtual)
MODERATOR: Hello, good afternoon, and welcome to the latest briefing in the New York Foreign Press Center’s 2022 U.S. Election midterm series.
I would like to welcome our FPC members as well as overseas journalists. My name is Mahvash Siddiqui, and I’m the moderator. Just a reminder: This briefing is on the record.
First, I will introduce our speaker, and then I will go over the ground rules.
For today’s briefing, we welcome Dr. Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Race and Ethnicity at the Pew Research Center. Dr. Lopez will discuss how both major U.S. political parties are reassessing strategies to reach a growing Latino voter community, while recognizing the diversity and complexity of this growing demographic.
And now for the ground rules. This briefing is on the record. Our briefer is an independent expert, and the views expressed by the briefer are his own. Our briefer is not affiliated with the Department of State or the U.S. Government and does not reflect the views of the Department of State or U.S. Government. Participation in Foreign Press Center programming does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation of briefers’ views.
Following our speaker’s opening remarks, I will open the floor for questions. And if you have a question, please go to the participant field and raise your virtual hand and wait for me to call on you. When called on, please enable both your audio and your video, and identify yourself by your full name and your outlet.
And with that, it is my pleasure today to introduce Dr. Mark Hugo Lopez. Over to you, sir.
MR LOPEZ: Thank you very much. Thank you for that wonderful introduction, and I’m looking forward to our conversation today. And thank you for the opportunity to be here to speak to you.
I have a PowerPoint to share, so I want to start with the PowerPoint first. And let me get that started here. And everything here that I’m going to talk about, I will share with folks in a PDF in case other questions arise. But certainly happy to answer any questions here and answer any follow-up questions as well.
I want to give you some sense of what we have been studying and looking at when we talk about Latino voters in the United States. And you’ll notice that I’m going to say something that’s really, I think, an important distinction to make, which is I’m going to say Latino voters, not the Latino vote. And that’s partly because when we talk about this group, this group is a heterogeneous group, it’s not a monolithic group, and I think this is one of the key points that has now become standard when people talk about this group is that it’s a diverse population of many different types of voters, as opposed to a single monolithic group that is only interested in one or two issues. And in the past, folks would oftentimes talk about the Latino vote and just immigration, as an example.
So you’ll hear me say Latino voters, Latino population, as opposed to the Latino vote and the Latino community, and that’s on purpose. But I’m certainly happy to talk about that more if you like.
Now, in terms of my presentation, I have a few slides here. I want to show you some survey results from some of our public opinion polling, put some demographic pieces also together to show you some numbers about what we’re talking about in terms of size of population and so forth, and a few other things as well as to what to look forward to in this upcoming election cycle.
So first, about the Pew Research Center. The Pew Research Center is based here in D.C. We’re non-partisan and non-advocacy. We don’t make recommendations for campaigns, for presidents, for Congress, for any government. We don’t make any recommendations at all. We’re, again, a non-partisan, non-advocacy organization, primarily funded by the Pew Charitable Trust based in Philadelphia. So on to some numbers.
So first, let’s talk about demographics in the country. How many Latinos live in the United States today? Well, the 2020 Census in the United States revealed that there were 62.1 million people who said that they’re Latino and are currently living in the country. And as you can see, that population number has grown rapidly.
So we talk about Latino population growth. Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups, racial and ethnic groups, in the United States today. And what I think is important to note is that they have accounted for about half of the nation’s population growth since 2010, and even before that, into the 1990s, about half of U.S. population growth since then has come from growth in the U.S. Hispanic population.
So you can just see here how big the Hispanic population is compared to other groups of Americans. Particularly, Hispanics make up almost one in five Americans today, and that’s up from less than 5 percent back in 1970. And when you take a look at it compared to black Americans and Asian Americans, you’ll see that the nation’s Latino population is larger, and it’s larger sometimes by multiple factors compared to some of those other groups. Now, Asian Americans are a faster growing group in terms of percentages, but when we talk about the Latino population, a large part of U.S. population growth has come just from Latinos.
So with all of that population growth, what does that mean for politics? The Latino population has been dispersing across the country. And if you look here, this chart shows you a map of the United States, and it shows you – the darker-colored squares here show you the states that have had the quickest Hispanic population growth over the course of the last 10 years, or at least 2010 to 2020. And you can see that some of those states are not states that you usually associate with the Hispanic population. These are places like Tennessee, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Louisiana.
That’s not to say that Latinos are still not focused in a few states. In fact, about half of the Hispanic population is in California and Texas alone, so about half of that 62 million live in just those two states. And if you include Florida, New York State, New Jersey, Illinois, you’ll start to get up to three-quarters of the Hispanic population in just a handful of states. And I’ll come back to that a little bit later because it’s important to know something about the distribution of the population, which has implications for the distribution of potential voters from this group.
Also, you probably even – heard a lot of talk about the diversity of the Hispanic population, and this diversity comes in many different shapes and sizes. Perhaps the one that most people focus on, though, is the differences by origin groups. And here – this is at the national level – a chart that shows you the share of the population of Hispanics in 2019 who trace their roots to Mexico. They make up the majority of the Hispanic population, about 62 percent. This includes people born in Mexico who live in the United States, but also people who are of – who are U.S.-born but of Mexican origin, people like myself. I’m U.S.-born, was born in Los Angeles, but I am of Mexican origin. My parents were also born here, too. But yet I would be counted in this particular tabulation as of Mexican origin living in the United States.
There are, of course, other groups as well, and there’s representation from all over Latin America and also Spain. And when you take a look at this, you’ll see that, for example, about 10 percent of the Hispanic population are Puerto Rican. About 4 percent are Cuban or Salvadoran. Another 3.4 percent are Dominican. And you see the numbers here going all the way down.
That other set of numbers, the 37.2, is the size of the population. So there are 37.2 million Hispanics who say they are of Mexican origin. And there are 5.8 million people of Puerto Rican origin living in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia who trace their roots to the island of Puerto Rico. So these are all the groups that have at least a million people or more, with the one exception being Spanish here, which is just below Honduran at 800,000 people, or about 1.4 percent of the population.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that these are – this diversity is quite important at the national level, but even more so at the local level is where you start to see stories that are tied to the politics of Latino voters. And here you could see, for example, a place like Los Angeles. It’s mostly Mexican. What about a place like Houston? Again, mostly Mexican, but with significant Central American representation.
But what about a place like Miami? A place like Miami is very diverse. And what’s interesting is that Mexicans are not the largest group there; it’s actually Cubans, at 42 percent. And this is really, I think again, a striking story because also the story of Miami, at least in the last election, was about Venezuelans and Colombians and Nicaraguans and Dominicans – in other words, a diverse group of people with diverse origins in Latin America whose stories are different from those of, say, people of Mexican origin in a place like Los Angeles. But as you can see, the diversity at the origin level at the – in metropolitan areas across the country is very, very distinct. In Washington, D.C., it is Salvadorans that are the largest group. In the New York City area, it’s Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who are the latest groups. So it’s quite a lot of diversity, I think, to keep in mind when we talk about the politics of this particular group.
So I’m about to switch over to talk about some politics, but that’s just a little bit of a picture of the demographics of this population, a large population – make up one in five Americans; fast-growing; dispersing across the country yet diverse at the local level in so many ways, one of which is through the origins about where people trace their ancestry and trace their roots.
So let’s talk about some recent elections. And in fact, let’s talk about 2016. Here is some data from the Pew Research Center’s voter validated study. So we’ve been surveying U.S. adults for some time now online. And that means that we’re able to match their – what they tell us in our surveys, their records, to their voting records in different states because a lot of the data about voters is publicly available, including information about where they’re from and where they live. And so we can match whether or not somebody actually did vote to their public opinion views in our own surveys. So it’s important to keep in mind that this voter validated study is a really great way to understand the distribution of how people voted in any given election cycle.
So what happened in 2016? Well, in 2016 Hillary Clinton won the support of Hispanic voters at 66 percent compared to Donald Trump’s 28 percent in that same year. And just to be clear, Hillary Clinton was the candidate for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump was the candidate for the Republican Party. You could see there was a gap of about 38 percentage points. In other words, Clinton led Trump by 38 percentage points among Latino voters. If you were to go back to 2012, and we didn’t have a voter validated study for 2012 because we were doing telephone surveys back then, but in 2012, Barack Obama appears to have won about 80 percent of Latino voter support, so a much higher level than Hillary Clinton. And at the time, there was some discussion about, well, why is Hillary Clinton losing support among Latino voters? We’ll come back to that in just a little bit.
What happened in 2020? Well, in 2020 Joe Biden won 59 percent of Latino voter support compared to 38 percent for Trump. That means that Trump narrowed the margin of victory among Latino voters for Joe Biden compared with, say, 2016 and Hillary Clinton. The difference here was a margin of 21 percentage points.
So we talk again about Latino voters. This is the story that just about everybody since 2020 has been focusing on: How did Donald Trump win so much support among Latino voters in 2020, especially after Donald Trump made a number of comments about Mexicans being criminals, Mexican immigrants particularly crossing the border illegally and being criminals and many other comments about Hispanics that over the course of the – since 2016 many Latino leaders nationally have pointed to as the reason why Latino voters would not support Donald Trump; and yet Donald Trump improved his support among Latino voters from 2016 to 2020 despite those comments.
You’ll also see here, though, for 2020 we have some other information. You can see that the – Donald Trump’s closing this margin, or at least the margin by which he won Latino support compared to, say, Joe Biden was kind of universal when it comes to gender. There was a gap among men and there was actually even a wider gap among Hispanic women voters in 2020 in terms of how many supported Biden versus how many supported Trump.
So there are some interesting patterns here, but again, men and women both had this gap. Democrats won. Biden won the support of Hispanic voters by gender. However, you can see that there was no real story here of men necessarily being more likely to support Trump than women, which is one of the explanations that many analysts provided.
What about in terms of college versus non-college Latino voters? Here too you can see that there – that Biden won both groups; however, his margin of victory was much greater among college=educated Hispanics than it is among Hispanics who had some college or less.
This is again another story that’s emerged not only for Hispanic voters but has emerged for U.S. voters overall from 2020, that there’s a growing gap between those who are college-educated and those who are not college-educated in terms of support for Republican versus Democratic candidates. And Latino voters seem to be very similar here compared to other Americans.
That’s the Presidential election story. But what about the midterm election story? Well, we don’t have data going farther back than 2018, but let me show you what we saw in 2018. So if we took a look at our validated voter study in 2018, Democratic congressional candidates – so this is U.S. congressional candidates – won 75 percent of Latino vote – I’m sorry, 72 percent of Latino voter support compared to 25 percent of Republican congressional candidates, for a margin – a Democratic margin of 47 percentage points. And you can see that it’s pretty similar across the different demographic groups that I have listed here.
2018 was an interesting year in other ways. It was interesting because it was a year that saw a large surge in turnout among all American voters, so all U.S. voters; the Latinos were no different here. And yet we saw this – what seemed to be a continuation of a wide margin of victory for Democratic congressional candidates versus Republican congressional candidates where Latino voters live. So when we talk about the Latino – well, Latino voters, sorry – see, I almost said the Latino vote; still trying to get used to saying Latino voters. So when we’re talking about Latino voters, one of the other things that comes up is what about their voter turnout rates? What about the share of them – what share do they represent of people who don’t vote? And so from our validated voters study, we’re able to take a look at this, at least for 2016 and 2020. And one of the things that’s important to note here is that about 10 percent of all U.S. voters are Hispanic, and so Hispanics are now rivaling – how do you say – they’re almost the same size as the number of black voters in terms of voter participation in recent elections. You can see in 2016 10 percent versus 10 percent; in 2020, 10 percent versus 11 percent.
So the size of the number of Latino voters is about the same now as the size of the number of black American voters. But what’s also interesting is that Latinos are over-represented among people who don’t vote. Back in 2016, they made up 19 percent of all nonvoters, and in 2020 that share actually went up to 20 percent. Now, this is partly because there were more Latinos who were eligible to vote. That’s a number that’s been growing, and Latinos as a share of all potential U.S. voters is at about 14 percent now. So their share among voters is usually below what you might expect, and their share among nonvoters is usually above what you might expect. So participation from Latino voters has generally trailed that of black and white voters across election cycles. And let me show you some – I’ll show you some data on that in just a little bit.
One more question about the campaigns, though, is whether or not people are getting contacted from the campaigns, and here’s some data from 2020. So this is from a post-election survey we conducted in 2020, and you can see that, for example, about 75 percent of Hispanic voters told us that they had received some kind of campaign contact. And you can see sort of how this varies across different types of campaign contact. So there was a lot of contact for Latino voters, generally speaking, in 2020.
Now, when you take a look closer at some of this, you might find that – and other researchers have found this, not necessarily us – that sometimes it was the Trump campaign that was more likely to have reached Latino voters in places like south Texas or south Florida than, say, the Biden campaign. Now, our data didn’t quite go into that, but you can see that there is somewhat of a distinction here in terms of who’s receiving what. There are some differences in patterns in terms of contact from different campaigns. Just wanted to share this with you so that you know that we have this kind of data as well.
Now, if you look forward to 2022, first question is: how many potential voters are there? So this is a number – and I apologize – I see an error already, so I’ll have to go fix that for you when I send it to you as a PDF. This is in thousands, not percent. But this shows you in thousands the number of Hispanics who are eligible to vote – that is, people who are at least a U.S. citizen and are at least an adult. That number is at about 34, almost 35 million people is what we project for this year. You can see back in 2020 it was at 32 million; 2018, almost 30 million; 2016, 27 million – the point being is that this number is growing and it’s growing quickly.
In any given year, about 1 million U.S.-born young Latinos enter adulthood and become potential voters. And so over the course of four years – between, say, presidential cycles – you might have about 4 million or more Latinos who become eligible to vote. Also, many Latinos become U.S. citizens, they naturalize to become citizens, and about a quarter of the gain in the number of Latino eligible voters in any given year is due to people who choose to naturalize. Now, naturalization rates are a little bit slower recently because of the pandemic and so forth, but a lot of this growth is really coming from U.S.-born young Latinos who have now entered adulthood and now can vote. And I think it’s an important point to keep in mind: These are oftentimes young people who are going to be voting for the first time, and that’s part of the reason why we see a somewhat lower voter turnout rate.
Now, where are Latino voters? Well, this pattern should look very similar to the pattern that you saw earlier about the distribution of where the U.S. Latino population is. What this shows you is a heat map, the share of all potential voters in the state who are Hispanic. And so you can see that in a place like New Mexico, almost half of all eligible voters in that state are Hispanic. In California and Texas, those numbers are about 35 percent or so. And when you start to talk about some other states like Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, you start to see – you see some significant shares of Hispanic voters, but you’ll note that there is no state in the nation where Hispanics make up the majority of voters in that state – no state for which that’s true.
But we have seen growth in the Hispanic share among eligible voters in many places. Oftentimes, like in a state like Georgia, you might see the Hispanic share in the last 10, 15 years rise from maybe 2 percent to 5 percent of potential voters. So these numbers are rising, but in close elections that can be very important in determining the outcome of an election in either a congressional race, a statewide race, or even in a national race where battleground states end up becoming very important. Okay.
What about voter turnout rates? Well, for midterm years, here is, according to the Census Bureau, the pattern in voter participation rates among those who are at least an adult U.S. citizen. And you could see what the pattern generally has been. I mentioned earlier that Hispanics oftentimes trail other groups of Americans, and you can certainly see that here. In 2014, for example, the voter turnout rate for Hispanic eligible voters was 27 percent. For whites, by comparison, it was 46 percent – 45.8, and for black Americans it was 40.6.
But you can see 2018 was a really unique year. There was a surge in participation among all Americans and Latinos as well, and that led to a voter participation rate of about 40 percent in that midterm year. That’s also interesting because when you look at the number of voters, the number of Hispanics who say that they voted was approaching almost 12 million, which, by the way, is about what you usually get in a presidential election for Hispanics in the years – in the mid 2010s. So what’s striking here is that you can see that we’ve had more Hispanics voted in each election cycle, but that the number really spiked in 2018, reflecting, again, a big interest from the public then.
I want to close, though, by talking about some of the views of some of our recent polling about Latinos, because there’s a lot of change and a lot of conversation happening around a number of issues in the country today, and I wanted to share with you some findings from some of those numbers.
So first, 63 percent of Latinos approve, in a recent survey that we did, of the new law that was passed by Congress and signed into law by Joe Biden to address gun violence. If you’ve been following the news on this, you know that the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring more checks, et cetera. Sixty-three percent of Latinos approve of that law, which is very similar to what we see for the U.S. public.
We also find that 56 percent disapprove, but 42 percent approve of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which of course addresses abortion rights here in the United States. This is something that’s interesting, because when we’ve tracked the issue of abortion among Latinos, we found over the years that Latinos have somewhat trailed the U.S. public in their view that abortion should be legal. So 61 percent of Hispanics today say that abortion should be legal, and this is up from maybe about 55 percent 10 years ago, but Latinos have oftentimes been a little bit slower in changing their views here compared to other groups when it comes to abortion rights in the United States. However, they’re now much more like the general public in this view than they used to be. Thirty-seven percent, by the way, say it should be illegal.
These are from surveys that have been conducted this summer, just to give you some sense for different surveys, but I can certainly point you to them if you would like to see where this data comes from.
What about approval of Joe Biden and favorability of Donald Trump? Well, first let’s talk about Joe Biden. In our most recent read from just about a few weeks ago, we found that 52 percent of Latinos disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president, while 46 percent approve of the President’s handling of his job. This is interesting because when Joe Biden became president, Latinos were generally overwhelmingly approving of the way he was handling his job as president, and there was a real high favorability rating for the President. But since then, his ratings have dropped among Hispanics just like it has, by the way, for the general U.S. public. There’s nothing unusual here that’s unique to the Latino story.
Meanwhile, we also found in the same survey that 68 percent say that they have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, and 28 percent say they have a favorable one. As you might guess, there’s some distinctions here between Republicans and Democrats among Latinos, but nonetheless, this is a general – as a general rule, this is a pattern that we’ve seen over the last few years in terms of the generally high unfavorability rating or opinion of Donald Trump among Latinos.
What about economics? As you might guess, Hispanics, just like the U.S. public, are concerned about the economy, particularly rising prices. And here, there’s actually no distinction. Three quarters say they’re very concerned about rising food and consumer goods prices, and another three quarters say that they’re concerned about rising gas and energy prices. For the U.S. public, by the way, these numbers are almost exactly the same.
What about the issue that most people, when they think about Latinos and oftentimes talk about when it comes to Latinos, which is immigration?
Back in 2021, we asked Latinos to give us some sense of what their goals for U.S. immigration policy are, and here you can see that a pathway to citizenship or a way for those in the country illegally to stay, particularly if they came here as children, were among the highest priorities for the Hispanic public at the time. But you also see on here that significant shares say that, for example, we should have increased border security, that that’s also a priority for them in their view about U.S. immigration policy. That’s at 75 percent, for example. And you’ll also see that 45 percent, or about half, the very bottom say that there should be more deportations of immigrants currently in the country illegally.
What I think these findings point to is the diversity of views that Latinos themselves have about immigrants and immigration. Not all Latinos are of the same view of – when it comes to immigration policy priorities. And also, not all Latinos are immigrants themselves, nor even the children of immigrant parents, so the connection to the immigration isn’t for many very close or very recent.
We have also heard over the years that – for example, in focus groups – you might have folks who are, say, of Dominican origin say it’s a shame what Donald Trump said about Mexican immigrants, but I’m not Mexican. So in other words, there is an awareness of what’s happening, but there isn’t necessarily the sense that there is a shared fate across all the different origin groups.
And some Hispanic immigrants will say: I did it legally or I did it the right way, and others who are coming here illegally shouldn’t be allowed to do so. So that’s why you see there’s also some – there is also limited support for offering asylum to those who are escaping violence or war in their home countries. There is a limited support for offering asylum to people like those who are coming from El Salvador or Honduras or Guatemala or generally from Central America. This is something we have – this isn’t new. This is something we’ve been seeing at the Pew Research Center for over 10 years now in terms of views.
Finally, climate change, and this is one where Latinos stand out as perhaps more concerned than the general U.S. public – though, again, it is a concern of the general public overall, and you can see particularly that Latinos are worried about the impact it is having in their local communities. They’re worried about trash in their local communities. They’re worried about water pollution. They’re worried particularly about air pollution. And so a recent survey that we did has some of these findings from these past summer if you’re interested in taking a look at some of those views. But climate change is something that is also on the minds of Latinos, perhaps even more so than others.
I’m going to stop there. I’m sure there are lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer your questions. But I hope that that was a good overview of sort of where we are in terms of Hispanic politics overall and also what we see for Latino voters in the coming election. I’m going to stop sharing.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Dr. Lopez, for sharing your expertise with us, and appreciate your very informative presentation. Let’s go ahead and open the floor for questions. If you have a question, please raise your virtual hand and wait for me to call on you. You are also welcome to type your question in the main chat room.
I don’t see any questions yet, so – is David Smith here, by any chance, from The Guardian? Oh, I see one question. Felicia Akerman, please go ahead and unmute yourself. Please state your name and media organization, and please go ahead and ask your question.
QUESTION: Hi, this is Felicia Akerman. I work for the Swedish business daily Dagens Industri. I can’t seem to start my video, but you’ll have to do with my voice.
I’m curious about the shrinking margins for Democrats that your numbers from 2020 showed. What kind of – what can you sort of say about what that tells us about changing attitudes towards the two parties among Latino voters? Obviously, 2020 is one year, but there is a lot of talk about a sort of realignment happening with more voters shifting over to the Republicans. I’m curious if you see any particular patterns, different ethnic groups perhaps within the Latino bloc, or different patterns in different states.
MR LOPEZ: Yeah, it’s a great question. So a lot of researchers have looked at this since 2020 to see how things have shifted from 2016. So first, there is no one single story that explains the change. It’s something that’s broad-based and is happening across the country. However, there are some, I think, really interesting and unique stories to tell depending on what part of the country we’re talking about.
So let’s take the case of Florida. So in the case of south Florida, it – what had been several years of a growing level of support among Cuban voters for Democratic presidential candidates – in this case, Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 – seems to have reversed, and now we have a growing share of Cubans supporting Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020, or perhaps more – somebody might say more characteristically, that you see a shift toward Republicans among Cubans after many years of shifting more Democrat. That seems to be one pattern, but there’s not enough Cuban voters in the United States to explain the entire national shift that we saw between 2016 and 2020 among Hispanic voters overall.
Some other important stories that have emerged are the – a similar story about Venezuelans in South Florida, but there too we’re talking about tens of thousands of people, not millions of people, who are eligible to vote.
In south Texas, there was, in many of the counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, where the populations are 95 percent or higher Hispanic – you’ll find that there was also there a shift towards Donald Trump between 2016 and 2020. And there it appears to be about border security. That seems to be what you hear candidates talk about and the public express, although we have not done surveys specifically of south Texas to explore that.
And then there’s an emerging story about third and higher generation Mexican Americans in the Southwest, in places like Nevada and Arizona and California and Colorado, who over the years have slowly identified more as Republican and slowly have identified – and voted more for Republican candidates, so it’s something that even predates Trump, which is also an interesting part of the story. But it was very, very small at the beginning, then more recently it seems like there’s a growing share of third and higher generation Mexican Americans also leaning more towards the Republican Party.
And then finally there’s the – what’s long been a story of the Latino – of Latino voters has been the religious component of the population. Now, the share who are Catholic is in decline. Fewer than half of all Latino adults say that they identify with or affiliate with the Catholic Church. However, we have seen a growing share who are evangelical, or at the very least that that evangelical Christian share has remained pretty stable. Issues like abortion are very important to them.
And this may be another story that’s tied to origin in the sense that when you see Puerto Ricans who have left the island and have moved to central Florida, you’ll find that the issue of abortion is an important issue. And the share of Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico who are evangelical is higher – about 30 – about a third compared to, say, 25 percent for all Latino adults naturally, and that may be having an impact on the share who supported Donald Trump in central Florida during 2020.
So, as you can see, it’s a mixture of stories, and I hear analysts talking about a whole bunch of different things. There’s a little bit of slivers of support for – data to support some of those analyses, but none of these alone is enough to explain the broader – what we’re seeing as the broader shift towards Donald Trump in 2020 compared with 2016. It’s a little bit here and a little bit there as opposed to one big national single reason.
QUESTION: Great, thank you. Could I just do a really quick follow-up on that? Because I find the sort of religion and evangelical aspect really fascinating. You mentioned Puerto Ricans in Florida. If I wanted to look into other groups where that could be a facet of changing alignment with the parties, what other groups would be interesting to look at?
MR LOPEZ: Yeah, so you’ll find that there are strong evangelical components among, say, Central Americans, particularly Salvadorans. They – you might find some Pentecostal stories there. And also, interestingly, even among Catholics there is a share who are charismatic Catholics, who are folks who will say, for example – when they go to church, they – in church they speak in tongues; but that’s also something that is correlated with more conservative values, including on abortion. And so you – that might be another group to look at. But I’d say that it just depends on where you are in the country whatever that origin group might be, but I think you’ll find that Central Americans, you’re more likely to see evangelical Christians among them than among, say, Mexican Americans.
QUESTION: Great, thank you so much.
MR LOPEZ: My pleasure.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Lopez, for that. I’ll turn over to Pearl Matibe. Pearl, would you like to ask your question or would you like me to read it for you?
QUESTION: Thanks. Either one. I guess I can go ahead and ask.
MODERATOR: Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Sure, thank you so much. So thank you, Mark. I really appreciate it. I’ve got a couple of questions for you. Firstly, could you explain what impact the Cuban vote had in the 2020 election? Also, could you reconfirm the variances between the Latino women voters in the midterm versus the last election?
And I just wanted to find out – I didn’t see any data on what college Latino voters’ views are regarding student loan debt. And does this have any factor in the elections?
And then if the Latino vote population has been growing at such a fast rate, is that attributed largely only to immigration? Or why is it that the black voter is not growing at a faster rate over the years?
MR LOPEZ: All great questions, really great questions. So, about Cuban voters in 2020, so these are people who are in the United States and who are of Cuban origin. So they’re eligible to vote in U.S. elections because they have U.S. citizenship. Most Cuban voters are focused in the state of Florida. In fact, the state of Florida hosts about three-quarters of the national Cuban population and therefore about three-quarters of the national Cuban vote.
And then that vote is concentrated in south Florida, in Miami-Dade County particularly. And this is where you’ll see, if you just look at voter registration numbers, that there’s almost as many Latinos in Miami-Dade registered as Republican as there are registered as Democratic, even though the Democratic numbers have been rising over the last decade. And that’s largely because of the Cuban American vote in South Florida. So what we saw happen in 2020 was that Miami-Dade County had – went Republican among Latino voters.
So Latino voters has shifted from being majority support for Hillary Clinton back in 2020 – I’m sorry – 2016, and then in 2020 Joe Biden did not win the Latino voter support in Miami-Dade County, which is really striking and may be due partly to Cuban voters. Of course, there are other Latinos who live in south Florida too: Dominicans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, et cetera. And particularly in the case of Venezuelans, who are also concentrated in Miami-Dade County, they too had tended to lean very heavily towards the Republican Party it seemed in this last election.
You should know that the Trump campaign reached out to these groups and did a lot to speak to the issues that are of importance to these groups ahead of the election, including the Cuban embargo, including dealing with the Government in Venezuela. So in many respects, there – these were groups that were reached out to in some ways by the campaigns, and they’ve oftentimes been, particularly Cubans, more mobilized – they have higher voter turnout rates – than other groups of Latinos nationally, like Cubans oftentimes have the highest voter turnout rate among the biggest groups, generally speaking. I hope that answers the part about Cuban – the Cuban vote in 2020.
About Latino women – about the women and their difference between men in elections, yes, there is – there has been a difference, and it’s been a growing – a growing gap. So we see two growing gaps, actually. First, Hispanic women are more likely to vote than Hispanic men, so that’s a gap that’s been growing for Hispanics. It’s also, by the way, been growing for the nation as a whole, so it’s not unique to Latinos. It’s something happening elsewhere. And it’s also the story that Hispanic women lean more Democratic than their Hispanic male counterparts and have tended to vote more for Democratic candidates than their Hispanic male counterparts.
And this is actually another explanation that some analysts offer, that along with that Cuban and Venezuelan story, the South – the U.S.-Texas – U.S.-Mexico border in Texas story, the third generation Mexican American story, it’s also a story about a growing gender gap. Yes, there is a growing gender gap, but it – but some analysts have also found that it was Hispanic women who had the biggest shift towards Trump compared with men between 2016 and 2020. We kind of see that in our data, but not necessarily so. But those are just some differences and variances.
You also asked about college Latino voters and the importance of student debt. It’s a really great question. It’s something that I don’t have an answer for. However, it’s something that’s important because we see about 2.8 million Latinos are now enrolled in colleges and universities. They’re one of the fastest-growing groups in terms of college enrollments. While enrollments are generally falling, for Hispanics the enrollments are generally rising. And that’s been the case at least prior to the pandemic. It looks like numbers are starting to recover after a little of a dip. But education has been a very, very important factor for Latinos.
And many young Latinos cannot afford their college education. In fact, one of the things that tends to happen is that they might drop out of college in order to go work for a while, and they come back, meaning that the time to degree is a little bit longer. But it’s a great question. I wish I had an answer for you on it, but I don’t have an answer for you on that – on that one.
And then finally why is the number of Latino voters growing faster than the number of black voters? Well, the Hispanic population has been growing faster than the black population in the United States for some time. This goes all the way back to the 1980s. Immigration at first was the big source of that growth, but subsequently it has been births in the United States to Hispanic mothers that has been the primary source of Hispanic population growth since. The fertility rate for Hispanics is generally higher than it is for black Americans, meaning Hispanic women tend to have more children over the course of their lifetime than black women do. And that gap, while it’s been diminishing, it’s still one of a – it still is a gap. And so when we talk about why Latino voter – the number of Latino voters is growing faster than the number of black voters, that echo of immigration and then their children who were born in the 2000s now coming of age and entering adulthood and driving up the number of Hispanics eligible to vote, it’s been a multi-decade process. And these are slow processes, but we’re starting to see that impact of that 1990s immigration on young U.S.-born Latinos coming of age, many of whom were the children of immigrant parents.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for explaining those distinctions. I appreciate it.
MR LOPEZ: Yeah, thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Dr. Lopez. So we received a pre-submitted question from David Smith from The Guardian, and he asked, “Why do Democrats appear to be losing appear support among Latino voters and what can they do to fix it?”
MR LOPEZ: I don’t know if I can answer – offer an answer for what they can do to fix it since we don’t make recommendations, but it does seem that Latino voters are voting less often for – at least at the presidential level – Democratic candidates. At least you can see the declining support among Latino voters from Obama to Hillary Clinton to Joe Biden. But this is something – and it’s also happening in other ways around the country with other groups of Americans.
So I think we need to keep in mind that sometimes it’s the candidates that matter, sometimes it’s the positions of the candidates, and sometimes it’s maybe some other big social factors that matter too. But in the case of Hispanic voters, Hispanics when it comes to – to what party they affiliate with, you’ll find that about three-quarters of Latinos will say that they identify with or lean towards the Democratic Party and about a quarter will say the same about the Republican Party.
Those numbers haven’t changed much over the course of the last decade so that it does seem that many Hispanics continue to identify with and lean towards the Democratic Party. We’re in the process of doing some research and a new survey looking particularly at the – about the values of Latinos to see what might be causing some changes in how people vote. So stay tuned is the best that I can say, but I think it’s a really great question to ask, and we’ll see where we go.
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you for that. Any additional questions?
So I have a question generally. In terms of the breakdown of priority issues, economy versus the Supreme Court decisions versus other social issues, what is the biggest priority for Latino voters by the various different groups, not necessarily glommed into one?
MR LOPEZ: Yeah, it is – it is the economy and that has been the case for some time. And it’s interesting that when we talk about Latino voters in the past it used to be Latino voters’ top issue that most folks would talk about would be immigration, particularly a pathway to citizenship for those in – who are undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The recession, the Great Recession and of course the pandemic and now the recovery out of the pandemic, has put the economy at top of mind for Latinos again. And that seems to be the case across all the different origin groups.
But I think what’s interesting here is that in some respects Latino voters and the Latino public are not different from the general U.S. public when it comes to their issue priority list. Economics and employment oftentimes top that list just like it does for the U.S. public. When COVID was at the – was at its peak in early 2020 and into 2021 that was a top issue for the Hispanic public, how the U.S. Government was dealing with COVID-19, as it was for the general U.S. public.
So that’s what I think one of the striking things here is that we talk about this group as if it’s a separate bloc, but in many ways it shares many of the same views of the U.S. public. And even within the Hispanic electorate, you’ll find that Democrats and Republicans have views that oftentimes mirror those of Democrats and Republicans generally among the U.S. public, maybe not as sharply divided, but certainly different views on a number of issues like abortion or gun rights or other issues, like, for example, the rights of trans people in the United States.
MODERATOR: Felicia Akerman, please, go ahead and announce your name and your outlet, please. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, yeah, Felicia Akerman from Dagens Industri again. Just to follow up on that, do you think it’s more that over the last couple of years we’ve had, really strong headline economic news with pandemic and now inflation in the U.S. that Latino voters, just as everyone, cares more about the economy? Or is the sort of, I guess – have we tended historically to exaggerate the difference in what issues are priorities for Latino voters as well as any other demographic group, really? I guess what I’m saying is this – is this really that Latino voters have sort of come closer to the general population or have they always cared about the same issues and we tend to exaggerate the differences?
MR LOPEZ: Yeah, it’s a great question. At the Pew Research Center – since I’ve been at the center, our work on Latinos has mirrored that of the general public. So our work has oftentimes pointed to the similarities in issues lists for Latinos versus other groups. Now, on an issue like immigration, Latinos may be more strongly in support, for example, of supporting young children who are undocumented in the country but came here illegally with their parents and are – and potentially could have protections from the federal government through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That type of program has very strong support among Latinos, and it also has strong support among the U.S. public but more so among Latinos.
So, yeah, on immigration that may be more of an issue for Hispanics than it is for the general public, but when you ask about the list of priorities or the list of issues that matter most, oftentimes Latinos mirror the U.S. public no matter what that issue might be. And that’s something that I’ve seen in over – I guess in 13 years – oh, my god – 14 years of surveying Latinos through the Pew Research Center.
QUESTION: Great. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Well, if there are no further questions, we’re going to go ahead and conclude this presentation. Thank you so much, Dr. Lopez, for your very scintillating presentation. On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, I’d like to thank Dr. Mark Lopez and the Pew Research Center. Today’s briefing was on the record. I will share a transcript with everyone who is participating today. And it will also be posted on our website, fpc.state.gov. Thank you all and have a wonderful day.
MR LOPEZ: Thank you again.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.