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. According to census data, California’s Latino population grew 33% between 2000 and 2012—far outpacing overall growth (11%). Non-Hispanic whites account for 40% of California’s population, while Asians (13%) and blacks (6%) comprise much smaller shares. According to the state’s demographers, California—which became the first large "majority minority” state after the 2000 Census—now has a Latino plurality.
… but only 17 percent of likely voters.
Latinos represent about 34% of the state’s adult population, but according to our surveys, they account for only 17% of those most likely to vote. Asians account for 11% of likely voters and 14% of the adult population. The share of black likely voters matches their representation in the adult population (6%). In contrast, non-Hispanic whites constitute 44% of California’s adult population, but a far greater share—62%—of the state’s likely voters. Our surveys over the last year indicate that only 23% of Latino adults are likely to vote, compared to 39% of Asians, 49% of blacks, and 65% of whites. Part of the explanation for this voter gap may be that many Latino adults are not U.S. citizens and thus not eligible to vote.
Latinos tend to be Democrats, but many are politically conservative.
A solid majority (59%) of Latino likely voters are registered as Democrats (similar to 2010); 18% are registered as Republicans and 17% as independent voters, also known as "decline to state” or "no party preference.” Latino likely voters (59%) are less likely to be registered Democrats than black likely voters (81%) but more likely than Asian (45% Democrats, 28% Republicans) or white (37% Democrats, 39% Republicans) likely voters. Latino voters are about as likely to identify themselves as politically liberal (34%) as they are to call themselves middle-of-the-road (33%) or conservative (33%). By contrast, whites (41%) are more likely to consider themselves conservative than liberal (32%) or moderate (27%). Blacks and Asians are slightly more likely to be liberal (37% blacks, 38% Asians) than conservative (28% blacks, 30% Asians).
Latino likely voters are most likely to live in Los Angeles.
Four in 10 Latino (38%) and black likely voters (41%) reside in Los Angeles, while nearly six in 10 Asian likely voters reside in the San Francisco Bay Area (32%) or Los Angeles (25%). White likely voters are spread across the state, with about one in five residing in the San Francisco Bay Area (22%), Los Angeles (20%), Orange/San Diego Counties (19%), and the Central Valley (18%).
Latino likely voters are more likely to be young, less educated, and less affluent.
Half of Latino likely voters (52%) are under age 45, compared to fewer Asian (44%), black (35%), and white likely voters (27%). Latinos have the highest share of likely voters under age 35 (31%), while 52% of white voters are age 55 and older. Latino likely voters (25%) are least likely to be college graduates, followed by blacks (31%), whites (41%), and Asians (71%). Among Latino likely voters, 46% have household incomes of less than $40,000, while 24% earn $80,000 or more. Nearly half of white (46%) and 50% of Asian voters earn $80,000 or more. Among black likely voters, 43% make less than $40,000, while 28% make more than $80,000.
There are slightly more women than men among Latino voters.
Women represent about half of black (55%), white (53%), and Latino (51%) likely voters but a smaller share of Asian likely voters (58% men, 42% women). Among Latino likely voters, 37% are immigrants, compared to six in 10 Asian likely voters (57%) and far fewer blacks (8%) and whites (5%).
Sources: Seven PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2013 to July 2014, including 7,525 likely voters. 2000 U.S. Census, 2012 American Community Survey. California Department of Finance.