Immigrant population growth will influence 2020 elections, report says

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According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, more than 23 million immigrants will be eligible to vote in the 2020 election, representing a historically high 10% of the electorate.

The growing number of eligible immigrant voters could play a big role in deciding the Democratic presidential nominee, as 46% of them live in states where primaries or caucuses are held on or before March 3. Fourteen states will hold the vote on that day, known as Super Tuesday, in addition to the four preceding it.

“They will have a voice in the Democratic primary because they make up such a large portion of the overall voting population,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, one of the study’s authors.

The share of the eligible electoral population made up of immigrants has increased steadily, from 6.2% in 2000 to 8.2% in 2012 and 9.0% in the 2016 presidential elections.

The increase in the number of immigrants with the right to vote is due to both the growth of the immigrant population and the increase in the number of naturalized citizens in recent years, according to the report.

About 7.2 million immigrants became citizens from 2009 to 2019, the report said, citing data from the US Department of Homeland Security. About 45 million immigrants live in the United States, representing 13.9% of the population, most of them from Latin America or Asia.

Melissa Rodgers, who leads the New Americans Campaign, a coalition of organizations that works to naturalize immigrants, said voting in presidential elections has been a major motivator for new citizens in recent years.

“That’s the main reason people we see give us when we ask them, ‘Why are you applying to become a citizen?’ “, she said. “It also tends to increase in an election year because that’s obviously when the problem comes to the fore, so we expect more people to tell us this year that they become naturalized.”

Among Hispanic immigrants eligible to vote, 53% are Democrats or lean that way, while 39% are Republican or lean that way, according to Pew data from December 2019. Similar recent data from Pew on Asian immigrants does not were not available, but a 2018 survey of all Asian voters by researcher AAPI Data found that 58% supported the Democratic Party and 34% supported the Republican Party.

Democratic campaigns have taken notice, hiring various staff and making multilingual presentations to new American voters. The subject of immigration itself has not featured much in the party’s presidential debates, with the frontrunners largely agreeing on more welcoming and less punitive policies. Meanwhile, President Trump made promises of a crackdown on immigration central to his campaign in 2016 and made it a key part of his re-election message.

Los Angeles County is reshaping its voting experience. And depending on how the rollout plays out for the county’s 5.4 million voters when it debuts in the 2020 election, voting changes could spread further across the US WSJ, says Emily Glazer. Photo/Video: Emily Prapuolenis/The Wall Street Journal

The report found that more than half of all eligible immigrant voters live in the four most populous states: California, New York, Texas and Florida. The highest number is in California, a Super Tuesday state, where 21% of eligible voters are immigrants.

Mike Madrid, a political consultant from Sacramento, Calif., who specializes in Latino voting, said the increase in the number of immigrant voters would have more impact on the primary than on the general election, since many reside in states who probably won’t. to be competitive in the fight for electoral college votes.

“The problem is that growth is all areas that don’t impact national elections,” Madrid said.

Karthick Ramakrishnan – a political science professor at the University of California, Riverside – said immigrant-dense congressional districts in areas such as Orange County, California, are likely to become breeding grounds. significant battle, determining whether the Democrats retain control of the House of Representatives. , which they took in 2018.

Write to Alejandro Lazo at alejandro.lazo@wsj.com

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