New, Younger Latino Voters are Driving Shifts in Latino Voter Sentiment

1 out of 5 Hispanic voters will be voting in their first presidential election in November

WASHINGTON, DC— As a part of its Latino Vote Initiative, UnidosUS today hosted the second installment of the Latino Vote Briefing Series with a deep dive on Latino candidate and party support.

  • For a detailed memo on Latino candidate and party support, see here.
  • For a slide presentation of our findings, see here.
  • For a video recording of our virtual briefing, see here.

Given their decisive electoral influence, there has been considerable chatter about an observed “shift” in the sentiments of Latino voters, first noted in the 2020 election, through the 2022 election, and after, in some national polling regarding the upcoming 2024 election. Drawing from historical party support patterns, election data and our own public opinion research, UnidosUS and BSP explored the breadth and depth of this potential shift, its correlates and whether such a shift could represent a “realignment” of Latino voters.

One thing remains constant: given the Latino community’s youth, every election cycle will see a significant number of new Hispanic voters. In 2024, it is anticipated that 17.5 million Latinos will cast a ballot, and 1 in 5 of them will be doing so for the first time in a presidential election. A full 38% of this electorate will be new since the Trump/Clinton match up of 2016. Newer voters are 14% less likely to identify as Democrats (45%) than more established voters (59%). Importantly, they are also five points less likely to identify as Republicans (18%) than more established voters (23%). Independence is the big winner, with 36% of voters in newer cohorts identifying as independent or non-partisan, compared with just 18% of established voters.

Clarissa Martínez De Castro, Vice President, UnidosUS Latino Vote Initiative said “Among the most recent Latino registrants, nearly half (44.6%) are undecided, while just above one-fourth each prefer Trump or Biden. Based on these data, if we observe a significant shift on election day, new voters are the most potent source. Latino voters have often been taken for granted, and that has been reflected in the levels of outreach and investment they receive. These findings put an even greater exclamation point on the need for candidates and parties to engage these voters early and meaningfully if they want to win over their support.”

Gary Segura, Ph.D., President and co-founder of BSP Research said, “While we can see the drift, it is less clear whether it is episodic or long term. And to date, claims of widespread partisan switching have gone largely unexamined. Our results appear to identify newer younger voters as the group among whom sentiments appear to be shifting.”

Key Discoveries:

There is a significant difference between long-term registrants and voters new since 2016.

  • They are less Democratic than more established voters and less supportive of the president.
  • However, they remain largely suspicious of the GOP.

Most of these new voters are young voters:

  • Their issue agenda does not vary appreciably from that of more established voters except on the importance of health care.
  • This suggests their potential drift is not issue-based but rather based on their views of the parties as institutions.

Trends in partisanship appear confined to a Democratic bleed into independence and non-partisanship, a long-standing if growing feature among younger and Latino voters.

  • Younger voters are SIGNIFICANTLY more independent, and less Democratic or Republican than more established voters.

In NET, Trump is doing not much better than he did in 2020 among Latino registered voters. But President Biden is doing worse, with Democratic erosion moving to “undecided.”

Meaningful outreach and effective engagement with these voters will be decisive.

The Latino Vote Briefing Series, a program of UnidosUS’s Latino Vote Initiative, is designed to provide accurate information about Hispanic voters and their priorities, tackle mistaken assumptions about this electorate and fuel effective engagement and response to their priorities. The series of virtual briefings will feature presentations and Q&A sessions with issue and election trends experts on critical topics shaping Latino voter perspectives and sentiment this election year.