From the NYT:
27 Million Potential Hispanic Votes. But What Will They Really Add Up To?
For decades, political analysts have heralded the Latino vote as a “sleeping giant” that will solidify Democrats’ holdon power. But in cycle after cycle, turnout remains dismal.
By MARCELA VALDES
SEPT. 14, 2016
… It’s true enough that 800,000 Latinos turn 18 every year, and both parties burn millions of dollars trying to woo Hispanic voters. This year, 27 million will be eligible to vote. But the idea of a fearsome Latino political power remains more myth than reality. Journalists have been writing about the so-called “sleeping giant” of Hispanic voters since at least the 1970s, but the fact is that voter turnout among Latinos remains dismal. It can run almost 20 percentage points lower than that of African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites.
… This year, the new spin on the old dream is that Donald Trump will finally shake the giant awake. He opened his campaign last summer by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” has repeatedly proclaimed that he will build a wall between Mexico and the United States and, until recently, has made the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants a cornerstone of his platform. As early as September 2015, Javier Palomarez, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told Politico: “I think the greatest thing to ever happen to the Hispanic electorate is a gentleman named Donald Trump. He has crystallized the angst and anger of the Hispanic community.” He added, “I think we can all rest assured that Hispanics can turn out in record numbers.”
Perhaps. But achieving record turnout for a demographic with a lackluster voting history isn’t so simple as watching them take themselves to the polls. … At a conference on the Hispanic vote held in New York City in January, the big unanswered question was “Why have Latinos never really turned out in force?”
Looking for answers, I spent six months interviewing scores of Latinos in Virginia, a battleground state where the Latino share of the population has more than tripled since 1990. …
For all the energy that activists, especially on the Democratic side, have put into turning out the Latino vote, I met strikingly few Latinos outside the upper-middle class who talked about voting as if it were something they did regularly.