March 7, 2008

The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries

II. The Hispanic Share of the Democratic Primary Electorate

The Latino share of the Democratic primary electorate increased this year in the context of high overall voter turnout in many of the Democratic primaries.

Some of this rise in turnout may have been due to demographic growth. Nationwide, Latinos make up a larger share of the U.S. population now (15.5%) than they did in 2004 (14.3%). They also a make up a growing share of the eligible electorate—8.9% in 2007, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, compared with 8.2% in 2004. Latinos’ share of the eligible electorate has always lagged behind their share of the total population because so many are either too young to vote or are not citizens. However, as naturalizations increase and as many young U.S.-born Latinos turn 18, the Hispanic share of the eligible electorate is rising.

As noted above, the biggest increases in Latino turnout this year came in the California and Texas Democratic primaries. In California, the Hispanic share rose to 30% in 2008 from 16% in 2004. In Texas, the Hispanic share rose to 32% in 2008 from 24% in 2004. There was also a notable increase in the Hispanic share of the Florida Democratic primary vote—to 12% in 2008 from 9% in 2004. California, Texas and Florida together comprise 58% of all Hispanic eligible voters in the United States.3

Other states in which the Latino share of Democratic primary and caucus voters increased are Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Only in New York and Louisiana did the Latino share of the Democratic primary vote decrease compared with 2004, to 10% in 2008 from 11% in 2004 in New York, and to 4% in 2008 from 5% in 2004 in Louisiana. The Latino share of the Democratic primary vote was unchanged in Georgia.

  1. Puerto Rico is not included in this analysis since over 98% of registered voters in Puerto Rico are Hispanic according to CNN. In the June 1 primary, the State Electoral Commission of Puerto Rico reports that 387,299 votes were cast, or 16% of the 2,366,667 voters registered as of May 2. For more information, see