Unaffiliated Latino voters are on the verge of becoming the biggest group of swing voters in the country. First-time Latino voters are registering at a rate higher than non-Latino voters in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Texas. They could be the key to future elections. In 2020, there were 62 million Latinos, of all backgrounds, in America, and the number is growing.
Is this a bloc that can't be ignored? Well, actually, it isn't a bloc at all. This figure covers everything from fourth-generation Mexican-Americans in Texas to third-generation Puerto Ricans in New York to newly arrived Venezuelans in Florida. They have different top issues and vote differently. That hasn't always been true. John Kennedy took 90% of the Latino vote in 1960 and Jimmy Carter ook 82% in 1976, but the Democratic House candidates took only 60% of the Latino vote in 2022. Young, unaffiliated Latinos are mostly up for grabs.
In Florida, Latinos tend to vote Republican, especially the Cuban-Americans. In California, most Latinos are Democrats. One area that has become a battleground is South Texas, around the Rio Grande. That area had always been heavily Democratic but moved toward the Republicans in 2020. However, in 2022, it swung back toward the Democrats.
The Latino vote, especially new voters, could be critical in 2024 in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada. In Texas it could heavily affect several House districts. Both parties are somewhat aware of this, but figuring out how to appeal to both younger Latinos and older Latinos, who are focused on different issues, will be a challenge. (V)