Since 2010, the number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by 3.9 million. Their share among eligible voters nationally is also on the rise, up from 10.1% in 2010 and 8.6% in 2006 (Lopez, 2011), reflecting the relatively faster growth of the Hispanic electorate compared with other groups.
Yet in the eight states with close Senate races,2 just 4.7% of eligible voters on average are Latinos. Among those states, Latinos make up less than 5% of eligible voters in six. Only in Colorado does the 14.2% Latino share among eligible voters exceed the 10.7% national average. Kansas is the only other state where the Latino share among eligible voters exceeds 5%.3 As a result, the impact of Latino voters in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate may not be as large as might be expected given their growing electoral and demographic presence nationwide. In other 2014 Senate races—none of which are competitive—Latinos make up more than 10% of eligible voters in just three: New Mexico, where Latinos make up 40.1% of eligible voters; Texas, where 27.4% of eligible voters are Latino; and New Jersey, where Latinos make up 12.8% of eligible voters.
Eligible voters are U.S. citizen adults. Not all eligible voters are registered to vote, or turn out to vote in an election. Nonetheless, the number of Hispanic eligible voters and their share among a state’s eligible voters provides insight into the potential impact of the Hispanic vote. So far that impact has been muted by the fact that Hispanic voter turnout rates in midterm elections and presidential elections have lagged other racial and ethnic groups (Krogstad, 2014). For example, in 2010, while 31.2% of Hispanic eligible voters voted, 48.6% of white and 44.0% of black eligible voters turned out on Election Day.