(Los Angeles, March 8, 2012) The William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) compared the Census Bureau Current Population Surveys on Voting and Registration from 1972 through 2010 and found a reversal of a long-term trend of Latino voter growth in non-presidential election cycles.
"While the pundits have finally discovered the importance of the Latino vote to presidential hopefuls of both parties, a closer look at recent Latino voter trends reveal worrisome patterns in recent years," said Antonio Gonzalez, WCVI President.
"We see that for the first time since the 1970's that Latino voter registration did not grow in consecutive non-presidential cycles. Indeed in 2006 and 2010 Latino voter registration actually declined: modestly in 2006, significantly in 2010 (-5% or -600,000 voters)," continued Gonzalez.
"A significant decline in national Latino voter registration in 2010 may diminish the size of Latino voter turnout in November 2012 by more than a million votes," Gonzalez added.
This trend reversal follows a twenty-five year growth pattern in which Latino voter registration grew consistently.
"The new voter registration trend is one of significant Presidential cycle growth, followed by non-presidential cycle contraction," said Patricia Gonzales, WCVI Vice President. "This is very different from the previous trend, in which Latino voter registration saw significant growth in both presidential and off-year cycles from 1979 to 2004 with only one exception (1989-90)," Gonzales continued.
The implication is that even significant growth in Latino voter registration will only modestly improve Latino voter performance at the polls in 2012 compared to 2008. Based on our previous trend, Latino vote registration in November 2010 should have grown to 12 million but instead it shrank to 11 million.
Therefore, even if the Latino vote grows normally for a presidential cycle, it will grow to only about 12-13 million for the November elections, far below previous projections of 14-15 million Latino registered voters. And having fewer registered voters translates into fewer Latino votes cast. We predict 10.5 million Latino votes cast (about a million more than in 2008), far lower than the 11-12 million previously projected. From 2004 to 2008 Latino votes cast grew by about 2 million votes.
"We believe that the recession and mortgage foreclosure crisis explains this decline. Latinos are suffering disproportionately from mortgage foreclosures and unemployment causing them to move a lot more than before. When you move, you have to re-register and we suspect that didn't happen in 2009-10," concluded President Gonzalez.
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WCVI chartered in 1985 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, Latino-focused research and policy organization, based in San Antonio and Los Angeles.
WCVI is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit policy and research organization. Founded in 1985, WCVI is focused on issues relevant to America's racial and ethnic minority groups. WCVI has offices in San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles, CA.