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August 2012
Latino Likely Voters in California
  • Latinos make up 38 percent of the state’s total population …
    About 14 million Latinos reside in California, accounting for 38% of the state’s total population. The 2010 Census found that California’s Latino population grew 28% between 2000 and 2010—far outpacing overall growth (10%). It also found that non-Hispanic whites account for 40% of California’s population, while Asians (13%) and blacks (6%) comprise a smaller share of the population. California, which became the first large "majority minority” state after the 2000 Census, may soon have a Latino majority.
  • … but only 16 percent of likely voters.
    Latinos represent about 32% of the state’s adult population, but according to our surveys they account for only 16% of those most likely to vote. Asians account for a slightly smaller share of likely voters than their share of the adult population (10% vs. 14%), while the share of black likely voters matches their representation in the adult population (6% each). In contrast, non-Hispanic whites constitute 46% of California’s adult population, but a far greater share—66%—of the state’s likely voters. Our surveys over the last year indicate that only 22% of Latino adults are likely to vote, compared to 34% of Asians, 45% of blacks, and 64% of whites. Part of the explanation for this voter gap may be that many Latino adults are not U.S. citizens and so are not eligible to vote.
  • Latinos tend to be Democrats, but many are politically conservative.
    A solid majority (63%) of Latino likely voters are registered as Democrats (similar to 2008); 17% are registered as Republicans and 17% as independent voters, also known as "decline to state” or "no party preference.” Latinos are less likely to be registered Democrats than black likely voters (79%) and more likely than Asians (40% are Democrats, 25% are Republicans) or white likely voters (43% are Republicans. 39% are Democrats). Latinos are about as likely to identify themselves as politically liberal (34%) as they are to call themselves middle-of-the-road (31%) or conservative (35%). By contrast, whites (42%) are more likely to consider themselves conservative rather than liberal or moderate, and blacks and Asians are slightly more likely to be liberal (37% blacks, 35% Asians) than conservative (31% blacks, 30% Asians).
  • Latinos and blacks most likely to live in Los Angeles; Asians most likely to live in San Francisco Bay Area.
    Four in 10 Latino (39%) and nearly half of black likely voters (47%) reside in Los Angeles, while two in three Asian likely voters reside in the San Francisco Bay Area (39%) or Los Angeles (27%). White likely voters are spread across the state, with about one in five residing in the San Francisco Bay Area (21%), Los Angeles (20%), Orange/San Diego Counties (20%), and the Central Valley (18%).
  • Latino likely voters are more likely to be young, less educated, and less affluent.
    Half of Latino likely voters (50%) are under age 45, compared to fewer Asian (42%), black (39%), and white likely voters (29%). Latinos have the highest share of likely voters under age 35 (31%), while 50% of white voters are age 55 and older. Latino likely voters (22%) are least likely to be college graduates, followed by blacks (36%), whites (40%), and Asians (68%). Among Latino likely voters, 45% have household incomes of less than $40,000, while 22% earn $80,000 or more. Nearly half of white (46%) and 57% of Asian likely voters earn $80,000 or more. Among black likely voters, 37% make less than $40,000, while 33% make more than $80,000.
  • Slightly more women than men among Latino voters; more immigrant voters among Asians.
    Women represent more than half of black (58%), Latino (55%), and white (52%) likely voters but a smaller share of Asian likely voters (55% men, 45% women). Among Latino likely voters, 41% are immigrants, compared to a solid majority of Asian likely voters (64%) and far fewer blacks (6%) and whites (6%).

Sources: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys, September 2011 to July 2012, including 17,018 adult residents, of whom 7,622 were likely voters. 2007–09 American Community Survey. U.S. Census, 2000 and 2010.