by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative determined that Latino voters were decisive in sending President-elect Joe Biden to the White House.
The analysis of votes cast in 13 states is the most comprehensive look at how Latinos voted in the 2020 general election. In 12 of those states, Latinos supported Biden over President Donald Trump by a margin of at least 2 to 1. And in nine of the 13 — including the battleground states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — the margin was at least 3 to 1. Only in Florida was Biden’s margin among Latino voters less than 2 to 1.
Nationwide, Latinos cast 16.6 million votes in 2020, an increase of 30.9% over the 2016 presidential election. By comparison, turnout was 15.9% greater among voters of all races. The states analyzed in the report — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — are collectively home to about 80% of the nation’s Latino electorate.
The authors write that Latinos played a key role in swinging election results in several battleground states. In Arizona, where Latinos represent 25.2% of all registered voters, the size and turnout of the Latino electorate helped Biden become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1996. And even in Wisconsin and Georgia — where Latinos make up less than 5% of registered voters — the Latino electorate helped tipped the results in favor of Biden, whose margin of victory was less than a single percentage point in each state.
“As we approach the inauguration of the Biden–Harris administration, it’s important to remember the groups that helped secure their victory,” said Sonja Diaz, the founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “The voters who helped put them in the White House will be expecting to see their needs reflected in federal policy, which is especially critical at a time when Latinos and Black communities are bearing the brunt of a devastating pandemic that requires urgent national action.”
The report also provides context for one of the prominent talking points that emerged in the immediate aftermath of the election. Many observers said that voting results in Miami–Dade County, Florida — where Trump got support from the majority of Latino voters — was evidence of a wider Latino swing toward Trump. Although the Miami–Dade result did help Trump win Florida, the UCLA report found that in all Florida counties outside of Miami–Dade, Latino voters favored Biden by a margin of 2 to 1. And in every other state analyzed in the study, Latinos voted for Biden by wide margins.
By looking at votes cast and demographic data at the precinct level, the report offers a more accurate analysis of the impact of Latino voters than other studies that have relied on exit polls, which do not capture enough Latino voters.
“The report makes it clear that Latino voters are a swing electorate,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, one of the report’s authors and the research director for the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “That means that future campaigns seeking to capture their vote must engage in meaningful outreach and engagement.”