Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Latino voters less likely to turn out for November election

California Voters Participate In The State's Pivotal Primary

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Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. An opinion survey indicates that Latino voters prefer the Democratic presidential ticket over the Republican candidates by a 3-to-1 margin this year, but it also indicates that many of poll respondents may sit out this November's election.

Latino voters say they like President Obama better than Mitt Romney by a three-to-one margin. That number has remained stable throughout the election cycle. It demonstrates a larger preference than four years ago when Latino voters picked Barack Obama over John McCain by more than two to one. 

But a new survey raises the question: will Latinos turn out to vote?

One in four registered Latino voters in California told the Pew Hispanic Center they may sit out this election, despite efforts by Democrats and Republicans to snag more Latino support. Both parties are investing in Spanish-language media and sending Latino surrogates onto the campaign trail.

Mark Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, said Latinos "are not quite paying as much attention to the election or are not as certain they're going to vote as the general public."

Among all registered voters, nine of 10 say they’re “absolutely certain” they’ll vote this November. 

But saying that doesn’t make it so. In the presidential election four years ago, somebody stayed home: about eight of 10 California voters cast ballots. 

Lopez says surveys rely on self-reporting. "It could be that folks are not necessarily telling us the truth," he said.  "They’re telling us what is socially desirable."

California has the largest Latino voting population in the country.  One in four Latino voters in the United States lives in California. 

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A record number of Latinos are eligible to vote, but will they?

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The number of eligible Latino voters has grown dramatically since 2008, but registration and turnout remain challenges.

There are a record number of Latinos eligible to vote in this year's election, according to a new report. But how many will actually make it to the polls remains the bigger question.

There are now close to 24 million Latinos in the United States who are eligible to vote, according to the report from the Pew Hispanic Center, upwards of four million more than there were in 2008. Pew researchers came up with the number after crunching census data.

But Latino turnout has traditionally been unimpressive, and there's a chance these potential voters could continue to fall behind in voter participation. Even in 2008, some 50 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with two-thirds of black voters and white voters.

In addition, eligibility to vote doesn't equal registration. In spite of a growing Latino U.S. population — with the bulk of the growth now coming from native-born Latinos, not immigrants — the number of Latinos who said they are registered to vote went down between 2008 and 2010, according to Pew.

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