94 percent of Latinos who voted in '18 plan to continue voting

94 percent of Latinos who voted in '18 plan to continue voting

A large majority of polled young Hispanic voters who participated in last November's elections plan to continue voting, according to a newly released poll by Voto Latino and Change Research.

According to the poll, released exclusively to The Hill, 94 percent of 18-to-35-year-old 2018 Hispanic voters who responded said they will vote in 2020 and beyond.

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The poll's findings are significant, as low voter participation has historically plagued the Hispanic community.

"They're paying attention. For the first time, Latinos voted almost at par as we did during presidential years," said Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, a political organization focused on increasing Hispanic voter participation.

The poll surveyed 1,014 under-35 residents of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin who identify as Hispanic or have a Spanish-speaking background.

Of those surveyed, 43 percent are registered Democrats, 23 percent independents, 18 percent Republicans and 16 percent aren't registered.

Of that 16 percent, 50 percent said they're not registered because they're not citizens, 36 percent said voting is not important to them, 14 percent don't know how to register, and 1 percent are under 18 years of age.

The poll was weighted to be representative of the under-35 Hispanic populations in the surveyed states.

The survey showed high participation among the respondents, as 70 percent said they voted in 2018.

Young Latinos are poised to make a difference in the 2020 election, particularly in the Democratic primary, as the group is growing both in size and in participation.

Kumar said the median age of white voters is 54, while the median age of Latino voters is 19.

"There's going to be a million young Latinos turning 18 every year for the next 10 years," said Kumar.

And changes in the primary calendar will give more weight to Latino-heavy states in the nominee selection process.

Kumar said a "slew of" potential Democratic contenders have called Voto Latino for advice on how to engage the Hispanic electorate.

The Nevada caucus will be the first test for candidates wooing that electorate, and Super Tuesday in March 2020 will include California and Texas, the two states with the largest Latino populations in the country.

The challenge for candidates will be "start voter registration early, because there's going to be such a strong appetite for politics," she added.

And young Latinos care most about the issues that drove participation in 2018 — issues that are more than likely to be central through 2020.

The top three determining issues for respondents of the poll were immigration at 32 percent, health care at 31 percent and the environment at 25 percent.

Still, top-tier candidates will have to hone their message to attract Latino voters in 2020, Kumar said.

"What is the game in 2019? The game is communicate, communicate, communicate," said Kumar.

"In '16, 51 percent [of Latino voters] never received a phone call from a campaign. In 2018, 49 percent never received a call," she said.

Along with historical factors, lack of outreach has helped maintain relatively low registration numbers among Hispanics — currently, there are about 13 million unregistered eligible Latino voters.

"By 2020, we're going to have closer to 15 million," said Kumar.

But the 2016 and 2018 elections were a turning point in Latino voter participation.

Hispanics — especially young Hispanics — are becoming more engaged, and candidates are including Hispanic voters in their campaign strategy.

For instance, Kumar said, former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeOvernight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan O'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems MORE (D-Texas) accelerated the Democratic game plan in Texas with his failed Senate campaign, which targeted young Latinos. Voter participation in the state's most Latino-heavy counties more than doubled from 2014 to 2018.

"Beto came and leapfrogged it, but our calculation was Texas was in play in 2024," she said.