The demographics of Arizona’s electorate are changing, and by the year 2050 Latinos will make up 44 percent of the population, something experts say could shift the outcome of future elections.
A new report by Latino Decisions shows Arizona’s Latino population is younger than other groups and growing faster, yet the percentage of U.S. citizens who identify as Latinos going to the polls on Election Day does not reflect the growth.
“During the last general election only 52 percent of Latinos eligible to register to vote in Arizona were registered, and only 40 percent of the Latino voting eligible population cast a ballot,” the report said.
Gabriel Sanchez, associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico is among experts in Arizona who believe Latino voters could turn Arizona into a Democratic state if they vote.
The demographics are changing but demographics alone are not going to change the political environment, Sanchez said.
The role Latinos will play in the 2014 election “will come down to mobilization,” Sanchez said.
In Arizona, unlike other states, immigration is the highest priority for Latino voters, according to report. In most states the economy is of highest priority to Hispanic and Latino voters, but in Arizona it is second.
“Because the Republican Party has so effectively spurned the Latino vote by way of both policy and rhetoric (with SB 1070) additional Latino participation in Arizona signals increased Democratic votes,” the report said.
In 2012, almost 80 percent of Arizona Latino voters supported President Barack Obama, which is 4 percent higher than the national Latino average.
Sanchez said more Latinos in Arizona say they would support GOP candidates if they supported comprehensive immigration reform.