A Record Number of Latinos Are Eligible to Vote, but 2014 Midterm Clout Is Limited

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File photo of polling place stickers for voters. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

A record number of Latinos are eligible to vote this year, but despite the rising numbers, Latino political clout will be sharply limited in the upcoming midterm election, according to a detailed new study.

Very few of this year’s competitive races take place in states with significant Latino populations, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. Moreover, compared with blacks and non-Hispanic whites, Latinos continue to lag behind in voter turnout, in part because their population skews notably younger than other groups, the report shows.

The number of Latinos eligible to vote — citizens at least 18 years old — has increased to 25.2 million, or 11% of the national total. That’s up from 10% in 2010 and less than 9% in 2006, and fits a pattern of steady increase in Latino political influence nationwide, the data show.

But Latinos are heavily concentrated in a handful of states. Nearly half of Latino potential voters live in Texas and California, and two-thirds in those two states plus Florida, New York, Arizona and Illinois. None of those six states have highly competitive Senate races this year, although Florida, Illinois and Arizona have hotly contested races for governor.

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