The perils of assuming anything about the Latino vote


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According to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the high-water mark was in 1992, when 51.6 percent of the Latino electorate came out to vote. More recently, 49.9 percent helped Barack Obama win in 2008, 48 percent turned out in 2012 and just 47.6 percent voted last November. It must be noted that the Hispanic share of voters has gone up every year since 1980, culminating with 9.2 percent of all voters in 2016, meaning that there were more total Hispanic voters who cast ballots, even though fewer eligible Latino voters as a whole turned out.

In the run-up to the election, what I heard from Latino advocacy organizations across the country was that campaign outreach from both parties was paltry and that investments from national get-out-the-vote organizations were not made in Hispanic communities until the last minute. At this point, one might intuit a classic chicken-or-egg conundrum: Political parties may not invest in Latino voters because they think Hispanics won’t vote anyway, and Hispanics may not be interested in voting because candidates assume their vote is either a foregone conclusion or a lost cause. Each of those assumptions would be a big mistake because the Latino vote has always been and will always be up for grabs.

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