2010-2016: The Republicanization of the Hispanic vote
Given President Trump’s late-cycle appeal to immigration hardliners, it is surprising that Hispanics are only a second order priority for Democratic campaigns. Latino Decisions, in conducting a tracking poll for the bipartisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), concludes that only 6 out of 10 Hispanic eligible voters have been contacted by any Democratic campaign. That is especially surprising given that the Latino vote will be crucial for a “Blue Wave” come November. And, that Latina/Latino voters (a) turn out to vote, and (b) vote Democratic with the margins necessary are not guaranteed. In comparison to 2012, two-party Democratic vote share among Hispanics decreased from 72.4% to 70.2% in 2016, while the fraction of Hispanics among voters has increased, per exit polls.
And, dynamics do not look much different in Midterm elections: in 2010, Hispanics made up 8% of the electorate, and two-party Democratic vote share was 66%. In 2014, the share of Hispanic voters had increased to 12%, but two-party Democratic vote share dropped to 63%.
What we see Now
This cycle, PredictWise has conducted massive amounts of generic ballot polling (i.e. questions asking respondents whether they vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate), relying on more than 3 Million survey responses from 200,000 respondents, as well as on over 32 Million behavioral data points. In addition, we have conducted private, candidate-specific polling in 40 of the most competitive districts. We poll the horse race as we always do, relying on state-of-the-art Random Device Engagement (RDE) polling. Here is what we see: We estimate that Hispanics will make up only 7% of voters in November, as of now. Of course, this number does not take into consideration late-cycle efforts of mobilization, but major Democratic campaigns are not focusing on Hispanic efforts. In fact, Hispanic outside groups are so concerned about the lack of engagement, that one them, MiFamilia Vota, launched an independent ad campaign intended to rally up and mobilize the Hispanic base with anti-Trump content.
These efforts are especially crucial because based on our data, directional vote conditional on turnout will be unprecedentedly Democratic this year: By our own estimation this number would be 77% if elections were held today; a dramatic increase since 2014.
In sum, we are looking at a major move of the Hispanic vote in 2018. It is about time that Democratic strategists open their eyes to Hispanic voters and focus their efforts. Hispanic turn out may very well be the difference between a Blue Wave and defeat.