Latinos in the 2012 Election: California
This profile provides key demographic information on Latino eligible voters1 and other major groups of eligible voters in California. 2 All demographic data are based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey.3
Hispanics in California’s Eligible Voter Population
- The Hispanic population in California is the largest in the nation.4 About 14.1 million Hispanics reside in California, 27.8% of all Hispanics in the United States.
- California’s population is 38% Hispanic, the third highest Hispanic population share nationally.
- There are 5.9 million Hispanic eligible voters in California—the largest Hispanic eligible voter population nationally. Texas ranks second with 4.2 million.
- Some 26% of California eligible voters are Hispanic, the third largest Hispanic eligible voter share nationally. New Mexico ranks first with 39%.
- About 42% of Hispanics in California are eligible to vote, ranking California 20th nationwide in the share of the Hispanic population that is eligible to vote. By contrast, 80% of the state’s white population is eligible to vote.
Characteristics of Eligible Voters
- Age. One-third of Hispanic eligible voters in California (35%) are ages 18 to 29, similar to the share of all Latino eligible voters nationwide (33%) in that age range. By contrast, only 24% of all California eligible voters and 22% of all U.S. eligible voters are ages 18 to 29.
- Citizenship and Nativity. Among Hispanic eligible voters in California, 28% are naturalized U.S. citizens. This compares with 25% of Hispanic eligible voters in the U.S. and 20% of all eligible voters in California, but just 8% of eligible voters in the U.S overall.
- Hispanic Origin. Hispanic eligible voters in California have a different Hispanic origin profile from Hispanic eligible voters nationwide. More than eight-in-ten (81%) of Hispanic eligible voters in California are of Mexican origin, 4% are of Salvadoran origin, and 15% claim other Hispanic origin. Among all Hispanic eligible voters nationwide, only six-in-ten (59%) are Mexican, 2% are Salvadoran, and nearly four-in-ten (38%) are of some other Hispanic origin.
- Educational Attainment. More than one-quarter of Latino eligible voters in California (26%) have not completed high school, about double the 13% of all California eligible voters who have not completed high school.
- Homeownership. Nearly six-in-ten Hispanic eligible voters in California (57%) live in owner-occupied homes, similar to the share of all Hispanic eligible voters nationwide (58%). Somewhat greater shares of all eligible voters in California (62%) and all eligible voters nationwide (69%) live in owner-occupied homes.
Characteristics of Eligible Voters in California, by Race and Ethnicity
- Number of Eligible Voters. White eligible voters outnumber Hispanic eligible voters in California by about 2 to 1; Hispanic eligible voters outnumber Asian eligible voters by about 2 to 1 and black eligible voters by more than 3 to 1.
- Age. Latino eligible voters are younger than black, Asian and white eligible voters in California. Some 35% of Latinos are ages 18 to 29, compared with 24% of black eligible voters, 21% of Asian eligible voters and 18% of white eligible voters.
- Educational Attainment. Hispanic eligible voters have lower levels of education than do white, Asian and black eligible voters in California. Some 26% of Hispanic eligible voters have not obtained at least a high school diploma, compared with 13% of black eligible voters, 12% of Asian eligible voters and 7% of white eligible voters.
- Homeownership. Hispanic eligible voters (57%) are more likely to live in owner-occupied homes than black (40%) eligible voters in California, but they are less likely to do so than Asian (67%) or white (66%) 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,” “Asians” and “blacks” are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. ↩
- This statistical profile of eligible voters in California is based on the Census Bureau's 2010 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 the 2010 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. More information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error. ↩
- Rankings for “Percent of Hispanic population eligible to vote” are based on the District of Columbia and the 46 states whose Hispanic samples in the 2010 ACS are large enough to generate reliable estimates. All other rankings are based on the District of Columbia and the 50 states. ↩