Senate Elections 2014: Latino Vote 'Small' in Close Senate Races, But Eligible Voter Turnout Growing
Senate Democrats in narrow reelection races could have been impacted by President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. While Obama decided to postpone an executive action until after the November elections, eligible Latino voters are few in hotly contested states.
Identified as toss-up states by CNN, FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics, Latinos represent less than 5 percent of eligible voters in eight of nine states. Only one state has eligible Latino voters in double digits; Latinos represent 14.2 percent of the Colorado voters ages 18 and older.
Alaska, with a 6 percent Latino population, has the second-highest rate with 4.9 percent. According to the Alaska Department of Labor, the median age of Latinos in the state was 24.4 years old, which is younger compared to the average Alaskan's 33.8 years. Migration to Alaska has been linked to the state's increasing number of overall Latinos. The Latino population in Alaska increased by 2 percentage points between 2000 and 2010.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is running against the state's Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Based on a CNN/ORC poll, McConnell leads with 50 percent to Lundergan Grimes' 46 percent. While multiple polling data shows McConnell in the lead, the Kentucky senate race is the closest election campaign for the incumbent. Latino voters represent 1.6 percent of the eligible voting population.
Georgia has the third-highest Latino voter rate with 4 percent, despite having more than double the overall Latino population with 9.1 percent. In North Carolina, with an overall Latino population of 8.7 percent, its eligible voters represent 3.1 percent of the electorate. Other states with notable low Latinos eligible to vote are Arkansas (2.9 percent), Iowa (2.7 percent), Louisiana (2.8 percent) and Michigan (2.9 percent).
"Latinos also make up larger shares of each state's total population than they do among eligible voters, reflecting their relative youth and greater number of immigrants who are not U.S. citizens," noted Pew Research Center's Hispanic Research Director Mark Hugo Lopez.
It's unknown if Obama's decision to delay an executive action would affect Latino's decisions in the voting booth but their turnout has been consistently low for midterm elections. In 2010, 31.2 percent of eligible Latinos voted, but the aforementioned figure is down compared to non-Hispanic whites' 48.6 percent.
Despite the low numbers in Latino voters among the toss-up Senate races, the Latino vote may be growing elsewhere. More than 25 million Latinos are at least 18 years old this year, an increase from 21.3 million in 2010. Three-quarters of eligible Latino voters are located in seven states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Of those seven states, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas have Senate elections this year but none are considered toss-up races.
Obama has dismissed claims he postponed immigration executive action to help Senate Democrats' elections. According to Obama, the delay is to guarantee his executive action is "sustainable" and to ensure he has the right legal authority. The president added he wants the public to understand the facts about the current immigration climate on the southern U.S. border.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!