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Report: Hispanic voter registration on the rise

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Hispanics drove voter registration and election turnout growth in 2018 in Albuquerque and New Mexico, according to data released last week by Univision Communications.

Nearly half of all new registered voters in New Mexico had Hispanic surnames, according to the findings, with a third of new voters in Albuquerque being Hispanic.

The number of Hispanic voters grew by 15%, compared with 10% for non-Hispanic voters in the state, according to the study, which was conducted by L2 (Labels and Lists), a company that collects voter data.

“I think the biggest issue is engagement,” said Keith Fernandez, Univision’s director of communications for policy and social impact. “The Hispanic community is an important part of the electorate.”

He said the data show the criticism that “the Hispanic community doesn’t vote” is changing. The findings show Hispanic turnout in the state grew by 45% from the 2014 general election, when 140,882 Hispanics voted, to the 2018 election, when 204,230 Hispanics voted.

The non-Hispanic turnout grew by 29% from 347,262 to 448,159, according to the study. It showed strong growth in turnout across all party affiliations, with a 39% growth of Hispanic Democrats compared with 35% among non-Hispanics, 42% of Hispanic Republicans compared to 16% of non-Hispanics and 97% of independent Hispanic voters compared to 52% of non-Hispanic voters.

The study showed voter turnout among Hispanics ages 18-24 grew by 153%, compared with 112% for their non-Hispanic counterparts. The Hispanic turnout grew by 81% in the 25-34 age group, compared with a 70% growth among their non-Hispanic peers. It listed 36% of registered voters in the state as Hispanic and 31% of voters in the 2018 general election as Hispanic.

Longtime New Mexico political observer Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., said the numbers cited by the Univision report did not align with the numbers he had.

The report listed the number of registered voters as 1,091,489, but Sanderoff said the number was actually closer to 1.2 million. The L2 report also listed the total number of voters in 2018 as 652,389, but Sanderoff said it was actually about 701,000.

“But the spirit of the proposition is correct, if not in actual numbers,” Sanderoff said.

He said the growth in the Hispanic population in proportion to the state’s population as a whole would point to greater growth in Hispanic voters, especially in the younger age groups, “with the Anglo population being older and already registered to vote.”

He said organizations have targeted Hispanics and younger voters in recent years.

“They are ripe for voter registration,” Sanderoff said.

Fernandez also mentioned an increased focus on Hispanic voters and said upcoming presidential debates will include a focus on Spanish-speaking voters.

He said L2 collected data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. But New Mexico voter registration forms do not include race. Fernandez said L2 ran into the same issue in Arizona. He said L2 identifies voters as likely Hispanic based on an analysis of all name parts, including handling compound surnames.

But that method is not exact, Sanderoff said. He said many Native Americans also have Hispanic surnames because of intermarriage years ago. He said that is especially the case among the pueblos in New Mexico, which is something he takes into account when looking at voter data.

Fernandez said he was not sure if L2 had taken that into account.

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