The large influx of Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. has shifted the dynamic around in several key electorates, a fact that could prove beneficial to some candidates and disastrous to others. The total number of Latino voters has surged to 27.3 million, just under 12 percent of the entire eligible voter base. That figure has grown steadily over the last decade: in 2008, there were 19.5 million Latino voters, and in 2012, there were 23.3 million.
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“The number of Hispanic eligible voters has grown at one of the fastest clips of any group over the past eight years, and is projected to be 40% higher in 2016 than in 2008,” a new report from Pew Research Center says.
Still, the impact of a larger Latino voter base could be mitigated by tepid voter turnout numbers. Only 48 percent of Latino voters cast their ballot for the 2012 presidential election, compared to 64 percent of white voters and 67 percent of black voters.
As Latino voters historically vote Democrat, the demographic shift represents a boon to the Democratic candidate in a general election situation. Meanwhile, GOP candidates like Donald Trump – who has made headlines with controversial comments condemning Mexican illegal immigrants – could face trouble thanks to their hardline immigration reform views.
Trump, who is the frontrunner in the Republican primary race, has campaigned on a platform that includes denying amnesty for illegal immigrants, forcibly deporting anybody found to have entered the country unlawfully and constructing a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll showed Trump with a blistering 80 percent disapproval rating among Hispanic voters, despite a commitment on the part of the Republican National Committee to court the growing voting bloc.
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