Released: October 15, 2010
Latinos in the 2010 Elections: California
This statistical profile provides key demographic information of Latino eligible voters in California.1 It also contains data on other major groups of eligible voters in California.2 All data are based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.3
Hispanics in California’s Eligible Voter Population
- The Hispanic population in California is the largest in the nation. More than 13.4 million Hispanics reside in California, 29% of all Hispanics in the United States.
- The population in California is 37% Hispanic, the second-highest Hispanic population share nationally.
- There are 5.4 million eligible Hispanic voters in California—the largest Hispanic eligible-voter population nationally. Texas ranks second with 3.8 million.
- One-quarter (24%) of eligible voters in California are Latinos, the third-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally. New Mexico ranks first with 38%.
- Some 40% of Latinos in California are eligible to vote, ranking California 22nd nationwide in the share of the Hispanic population that is eligible to vote. In contrast, 79% of the state’s white population is eligible to vote.
Characteristics of Eligible Voters
- Age. One third of Hispanic eligible voters in California (34%) are ages 18 to 29. By contrast, only 24% of all California eligible voters, 31% of Hispanic eligible voters nationwide and 22% of all U.S. eligible voters are in that age range.
- Citizenship. Nearly three-in-ten of Hispanic eligible voters in California (28%) are naturalized U.S. citizens, compared with 19% of all California eligible voters. Nationwide, 93% of all eligible voters are citizens by birth, as are 74% of all Hispanic voters, compared with 72% of California Hispanic eligible voters.
- Educational Attainment. Among Latino eligible voters in California 27% have not completed high school, similar to the share of all Latino eligible voters nationwide. Just 13% of all California eligible voters and all eligible voters nationwide have not completed high school.
- Homeownership. Hispanic eligible voters in California are less likely as all California eligible voters to live in an owner-occupied home—59% versus 63%. In contrast, a greater share of all eligible voters nationwide (70%) live in owner-occupied homes.
Characteristics of Eligible Voters in California, by Race and Ethnicity
- Number of Latino Eligible Voters. Latino eligible voters outnumber black eligible voters in California by more than 3 to 1—5.4 million versus 1.6 million. Twice as many Hispanics as Asians are eligible to vote in California—5.4 million versus 1.6 million.
- Age. In California, Latino eligible voters are younger than white, black and Asian eligible voters. More than one-in-three (34%) Latino eligible voters are ages 18 to 29 compared with 19% of white, 27% of black and 20% of Asian eligible voters.
- Citizenship. Asian eligible voters in California are more than twice as likely as Latino eligible voters to be naturalized citizens—70% versus 28%.
- Homeownership. California Latino eligible voters (59%) are less likely to live in owner-occupied homes than white (67%) and Asian (68%) eligible voters in California.
- Eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens ages 18 and older. Eligible voters are not the same as registered voters. To cast a vote, in all states except North Dakota, an eligible voter must first register to vote. ↩
- The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are used interchangeably. References to “whites,” “blacks,” and “Asians” are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. ↩
- This statistical profile of eligible voters in California is based on the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. The data used for this statistical profile come from 2008 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), representing a 1% sample of the U.S. population. Like any survey, estimates from the ACS are subject to sampling error and (potentially) measurement error. Information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error is available at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/data_documentation/Accuracy/accuracy2008.pdf. An example of measurement error is that citizenship rates for the foreign born are estimated to be overstated in the Decennial Census and other official surveys, such as the ACS (see Jeffrey Passel. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2008)). ↩