Latino vote surged in 2018, new data shows

Latino voters turned out at much higher rates in the 2018 midterm elections than prior cycles, according to new private and public data, giving Democratic candidates a boost that could have implications for the presidential race.

Earlier this week, a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau found that Hispanic turnout leaped by 13.4 points from the 2014 midterms to 40.4 percent in 2018. While voter participation was up across the board — turnout hit a 100-year high overall — that was a larger jump than white (11.7) or black voters (10.8) and only slightly more than Asian voters (13.3).

On Thursday, pollster Latino Decisions and Democratic data firm Catalist released their own detailed analysis of Latino turnout in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Nevada, all of which had major statewide races in November. The study was commissioned by America’s Voice and the Immigration Hub, two immigrant advocacy groups.

In each case, they found Latinos making up a higher proportion of the electorate in 2018 than in 2014: Their share was five points more in Texas and Nevada and three points more in Florida and Arizona. The gains were largest in precincts where more than 70 percent of the population was Latino.

Driving up the turnout among the fast-growing Latino electorate, which historically has lagged behind black and white participation, could be critical to the Democrats in winning those states in 2020. Part of the difficulty has been that Latino voters skew younger than other demographic groups. The 2018 elections saw a larger overall increase in participation among voters 18-29 than any other age group, which may have helped boost Latino numbers in particular.

Latino voters supported Democratic candidates by wide margins, according to the Latino Decisions/Catalist study: 75 percent in Arizona, 75 percent in Texas, 71 percent in Nevada, and 61 percent in Florida.

The report concluded that the turnout and margins among Latino voters were “largely responsible” for Democratic Senate wins in Nevada and Arizona, where they helped overcome Republican candidates’ own advantage with white voters.

In a conference call Thursday around the report’s findings, pollsters and progressive strategists urged Democrats and candidates to work with community organizations who can reach prospective Latino voters sooner rather than later in the election cycle.

“Late investment negatively impacted execution,” said Emmy Ruiz, a political consultant and a former state director for the Obama and Clinton campaigns. “We saw that the lack of funds impacted capacity and limited our gains in the outcome,” noting it kept organizations from reaching their full potential to reach voters.

This article originally appeared on Forbes