A new generation is charting its own course in politics and ideology. Latinos represented 8.4 percent of voters in the 2012 presidential election, and because the Latino population is increasing, much ink has been spilled about their future influence on American electoral outcomes. But population size is just one moving target. One such monumental shift is that while only 46 percent of Latino 34-year-olds were born in the U.S., 81 percent of Latino 18-year-olds were, according to the American Community Survey.
To know where Latino millennials are going, and what they’ll do in the voting booth, it’s important to study them separately. Data from the campaign analytics firm Resonate helps shed some light on this population. Here are three key things you need to know:
1. Latino millennials are more millennial than Latino in their politics.
But where 48 percent of millennials identify as Independents , Latino millennials are 29 percent more likely than millennials as a whole to identify specifically as Democrats. And the party imbalance is striking: 42 percent Democrat to 14 percent Republican.
2. Immigration policy is not their primary motivator; it’s not even in the top five.
This new generation of American-born Latinos is barely more focused on immigration policy (30 percent) than the electorate as a whole, and it ranks behind social issues, education policy and job creation on their priority lists. But there are also things they care about less: a balanced budget, crime and bi-partisanship.
3. Being a Latino candidate doesn’t guarantee you’ll get their vote.
Whether or not you believe African-Americans voted for President Barack Obama because he’s black, don’t count on Latino millennials to spend too long considering Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans. Rubio’s net favorability is almost 2:1 negative among those who have an opinion (and a majority don’t), while Cruz’s is more than 3:1 negative. Incredibly, more Latino millennials have a favorable view of Donald Trump than of Marco Rubio.
What does this mean for Republicans? Latino millennials are defying some of the conventional wisdom on which Republican strategists may have relied. While the data above hold some dark clouds for Republicans, there are also some silver linings:
- Latino candidates can’t count on the votes of young Latinos just because of identity politics. They’ll need to consider their positions and pitch to win this population, just like anyone else.
- Rubio has wisely made higher education reform a significant component of his stump speech as a nod to younger voters. This may attract the attention of Latino millennials.
- Latino millennials are more likely than the average voter to have concerns about legacy families (Bushes and Clintons) controlling the White House. In fact, 62 percent have some degree of discomfort with political dynasties, and with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush marginalized in the Republican race, that could be a drag on Clinton.
This column by SVP & Chief Analytics Officer Michael Horn originally appeared in USNews.