Low voter turnout among Hispanics in Texas plays a key role in preventing the Republican-dominated state from being politically competitive, according to a new report from the polling company Latino Decisions. In Texas, which is home to nearly one in five of all U.S. Hispanics, just 39 percent of Hispanics who were eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election cast a ballot. That’s compared with 48 percent of eligible U.S. Hispanics, 61 percent of eligible white Texans and 64 percent of eligible white Americans. “If Hispanic voter mobilization efforts were successful in the state, Texas would be as competitive as Florida in statewide contests, including presidential elections,” said the report, which was commissioned by America’s Voice, which advocates for immigration reform. Twenty-five percent of Texas Hispanic voters said they were contacted by campaigns or organizations encouraging them to vote in 2012, the report said. The national average was 31 percent.
“That’s really abysmal; these are voters,” said Sylvia Manzano, principal at Latino Decisions. “If they’re not even getting contacted, then we can only surmise that the less-frequent voters and the eligible but not registered are also not being encouraged to participate.”
In Texas, where 38 percent of residents are Hispanic, both major political parties are actively pursuing Hispanic voters, 56 percent of whom identified as Democrats in 2012. Hispanics are expected to be a plurality of the state population by 2020.
Republicans have retained some support among Texas Hispanics in part because there hasn’t been an “anti-immigration Pied Piper” in the state, Manzano said. But she said that is changing, citing campaign materials from GOP lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick calling for stopping the “illegal invasion.”