LOS ANGELES, CA — The UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) released a new study documenting growth in the Latino vote from 2014 to 2018 and found Latino concentrated areas had the largest growth in voter turnout of anywhere in the country. The research project downloaded and analyzed official election results for more than 20,000 precincts across eight states and compared 2014 ballots cast to 2018 ballots cast. Overall, the study concludes that the Latino vote increased by 96% in four years compared to a 37% increase in the non-Latino vote. The study was directed by UCLA Professor Matt A. Barreto and LPPI Executive Director Sonja Diaz, and implemented by a team of Ph.D. students with expertise in race, ethnicity and politics (REP) at UCLA.
After the 2018 election, there was considerable speculation about degree of growth in the Latino vote. This report relies on a social science approach to evaluate official election data to draw conclusions about turnout and vote growth. In particular, the report examines how much of an increase was recorded, and where, and how this impacted Democratic gains in the U.S. House.
The UCLA LPPI team of researchers downloaded more than 20,000 individual voting precincts across eight states with large Latino populations in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Texas
These eight states were critical because heading into Election Day, they contained 30 House seats that were rated as “toss-up” or “lean” by The Cook Political Report. Across these eight states, 20 districts flipped from Republican to Democrat, including CA (7); NJ (4); NY (3); TX (2); FL (2) AZ (1); and NM (1).
For each precinct, we compared the total votes cast in 2014 to the total votes cast in 2018, to generate an increase in turnout which we call total vote growth. For each precinct, we report the percent of all voters who are Latino, using data from the Catalist Q tool. Thus, for each of the 20,000 precincts, we can determine what the growth rate was, and whether this growth rate was higher, or lower, in Latino or non-Latino areas.
Voter turnout was historic in 2018 and our data clearly show that the largest growth in ballots cast occurred in majority Latino precincts. This trend was consistent across all eight states analyzed, where the largest vote growth occurred in precincts that were 70%, 80%, or 90% Latino in voting population. In contrast there was more modest vote growth in precincts that were less than 10% Latino. Overall, this comprehensive dataset of official election results provides very clear evidence of substantial growth in the Latino vote in 2018
In many of these states, but especially California, New Jersey, and New York the Latino vote growth was responsible for flipping multiple House seats to the Democrats. In some cases, House seats flipped by just 2% or 3%, and this research has documented Latino turnout growth of over 100% compared to 2014 in many instances.
Founded in 2017, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) is a comprehensive think tank that addresses the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color in states and localities across the U.S. through research, advocacy, civic engagement, and leadership development. Sonja Diaz (MPP/JD) and UCLA Political Science/Chicano Studies Professor Matt Barreto (PhD, Political Science) co-founded LPPI to address issues of public opinion, representation, and domestic policy through data and facts. LPPI is housed in the Luskin School of Public Affairs under the leadership of Dean Gary M. Segura.