2016 voters will be most diverse ever
Voters in this year’s presidential election will be some of the most diverse ever, according to the Pew Research Center. By Election Day, nearly one-in-three eligible voters will be Hispanic, black, Asian or any other racial and ethnic minority.
Young Hispanics are the driving force behind a diversifying voting population. Many of these new voters are American-born and will turn 18 by Election Day. Pew writer and editor Jens Manuel Krogstad says that that makes Latino millennials a key demographic.
“They’re almost half of all eligible Latino voters,” he says. “That really stands out compared to whites millennials at just 27 percent.”
The number of eligible voters is growing steadily overall. There are more than 10 million new eligible voters this election cycle compared to 2012. That increase also includes non-Hispanic, white Americans. The white electorate isn’t declining, it just isn’t growing at nearly the same rates as blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Krogstad says there’s several reasons, one being an aging population. More whites are getting older and dying.
“There are also fewer white U.S. citizens turning 18,” he says. “So as a result, white voters’ percentage of the electorate fell from 71 to 69 percent since 2012.”
While immigration reform is a hot-button issue among Latino voters on both sides of the aisle, it’s Asian-Americans who experienced the largest increase in eligible voters due to naturalization. Since 2012, nearly 60 percent of newly eligible Asian voters gained the right to vote from becoming naturalized American citizens. And by 2055, Asians will be the largest immigrant group in the country, potentially growing the voting population even more in the future.
According to Pew, the percentage of all minority eligible voters will continue to climb. And the changing face of the American electorate poses new outreach challenges for political parties looking to gain support among young people and minorities. Hispanics, blacks and Asians largely identify with Democrats while whites are more evenly split. Generational differences are also more common among whites.
But it’s one thing to register to vote, it’s another to show up to the polls. Across racial lines, minorities have lower voter turnout rates, especially among young people. And despite their growing percentage of the electorate, Hispanic millennials have lower turnout rates compared to black and white millennials. Krogstad says for Latinos, the youth is their greatest strength in terms of growing their political power.
“There’s a lot of potential there for young Latinos to influence the presidential elections,” he says. “The question is whether they will turn out to vote.”