Monday, November 7, 2016

California and the Latino Voter Surge

There's a lot of talk about a Latino voting surge this year and a big question is whether it exists in California. Looking at the PDI information we see that in 2016 Latinos have made up 15% of California VBMs, up from 12% in 2012. That'd appear to be a surge but they were 17% of the voters who got a VBM ballot in 2012 and are 22% this year. So the percentage of Latinos returning their VBM ballots has actually dropped from 70% to 68%. Because more people are receiving VBMs there's a smaller pool of election day voters than there were in 2012. We could see more election day VBM returns than in the past, but if it's the same then we might not have much, if any, increase in Latinos as part of the California electorate.

That's not to say that there isn't a Democratic surge. There is a strong one, but I think it's largely white Democrats who are driving the increased VBM return, with Latinos secondary. It's also worth noting that the increase in Democrats isn't as good as it seems. In 2012 the VBM electorate was 43%D/32%R and the returns were 43%D/36%R. This year the VBM electorate is 45%D/27%R and the returns are 46%D/32%R. So Republicans are still returning at a greater rate than Democrats. That's the end of the good news for the GOP. In 2012 the overall electorate was 44%/29%R and now it's 45%D/26%R. The Democratic surge in VBM ballots might not mean more of a Republican election day vote compared to the past.

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