Registered Latino voters at record high of more than 16M, national group says

The estimated number of registered Latino voters for this presidential election is a record 16.2 million, according to a national bipartisan group that analyzes the Latino electorate.

The group, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, is projecting that slightly more than 13 million of these registered voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 8.

NALEO officials say they expect the number of registered Latino voters to climb higher since the 16.2 million – which marks a record – was culled from state records before all states end registration.

Some of the states that provided voter registration totals to Catalist, the voter database whose numbers NALEO based its estimate on, may not have submitted their most up-to-date numbers, Rosalind Gold, NALEO’s senior director of policy, research and advocacy, told Fox News Latino.

“By the time of the actual election, the number is likely to be higher,” she said.

This year also has seen a record 27.3 million Latino eligible voters, making them 12 percent of all eligible voters, according an October report by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew report noted that the number of Latino eligible voters has risen by 4 million since 2012. Latinos have accounted for 37 percent of the growth of all eligible voters in the last four years.

NALEO says that in 2012, the number of registered Latino voters was 13.7 million, according to Census data released after the election.

That would mark an 18.3 percent increase between 2012 and 2016. (NALEO cautions against comparing Catalist's voter data with that of the Census, however, since they are compiled differently.)

Pew reported that 11.2 million Hispanics voted in the 2012 elections, a record high that NALEO expects will be shattered this November.

The dramatic growth of the Latino electorate, Pew said, “has helped make the U.S. electorate more racially and ethnically diverse than ever this year.”

Latinos have leaned Democrat in every presidential election since at least the 1980s, but they have showed their willingness to give solid support to a Republican, such as when George W. Bush garnered 44 percent of their vote in 2004.

In a recent poll by Latino Decisions conducted on behalf of NALEO, Latino likely voters in four battleground states said they while they lean Democratic, and feel the party cares more about them than the GOP, they also feel Democrats take them for granted.

“Democrats should be concerned that Latinos feel their vote is taken for granted,” said Arturo Vargas, NALEO’s executive director.

“We do see enthusiasm for voting in this election,” he said. “But it would be wrong for Democrats to think all they need to do is rely on Donald Trump to get Latino support.”

The growth of Latino registered voters is a key part of the overall record number of U.S. citizens who have registered, according to New York Magazine.

More than 200 million people have registered to vote in the Nov. 8 election, the magazine reported.

That is 50 million more than the number of citizens registered in 2008, and 70 million more than were registered nearly 20 years ago.

One factor contributing to the surge is the heightened attention Republican nominee Donald Trump has brought to the election, for a variety of reasons.

Then there are the changing demographics, chiefly the growth of the Hispanic population, many of whose members have been outraged by the GOP candidate’s remarks about Mexico and his hardline position on immigration.

While Trump's candidacy has energized a sector of the population on the right that hasn't been active in electoral politics, Democrats also have seized on his polarizing campaign to launch registration drives.

The Democrats have been more successful, the magazine said. Nearly 43 percent of the new voters lean Democratic, while 29 percent lean Republican.

“There’s more of a hardening of [Latinos] identifying with the Democratic party than before,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas, about how first-time voters may lock in their voting patterns for years to come. “Those numbers can harden like concrete.”