(Bloomberg) — Nearly a third more Hispanic voters participated in the 2020 presidential election as did in 2016, providing a boost to Democrat Joe Biden that swamped the small inroads that Republicans made in the share of the Hispanic vote.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Hispanic voters made up 10.6% of the national electorate in 2020, an increase of 1.4 percentage points and rivaling Black voters who made up 12% to 13%. Non-Hispanic White voters comprised 71% of all voters, down from 73.3% in 2016.
A leading Latino rights group said the increase in Hispanic voters is the highest ever recorded.
“These trends underscore the reality that presidential campaigns cannot be successful unless they engage Latino voters,” said Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
It also marks a demographic shift that may have helped tip the balance in some key states.
Republicans have touted inroads that former President Donald Trump made among Latino voters, especially in Florida where Cuban-Americans form an especially influential voting bloc. Exit polls there show Biden won 53% of Florida Latinos voters compared to 46% for Trump, even as Trump carried the state.
But Biden still won two thirds of Latino voters nationally in 2020, according to exit polls form Edison Research, and the increase in Latino turnout was large enough that it could have changed the outcome in a number of battleground states.
In Arizona, a state Biden won by just 10,457 votes, about 271,000 more Latinos turned out to vote in 2020 than in 2016. In Georgia, which Biden won by 11,779 votes, Latino turnout increased by 17,000. And in Nevada, which Biden won by 33,596 votes, Latino turnout increased by 43,000.
Biden won Michigan by a more comfortable 154,188-vote margin. But the number of Latino voters there more than doubled, from 74,000 to 165,000, the Census Bureau said.
Asian-Americans saw the largest increase in voting in 2020, up 36.4% from 2016. Exit polls showed they voted 61% to 34% in Biden’s favor, but their influence is largely in Democratic states Biden was expected to win anyway.
White voters increased by 11.1% and Black voters increased by 10.5%, slower than the overall increase of 12.4%.
Because most states don’t ask for ethnicity in voter registration, the Census Bureau survey of voting and registration patterns is the most comprehensive source for the racial and ethnic makeup of the electorate. Last year’s survey included 54,000 households with citizens 18 years or older from Nov. 15-24, 2020.