Are Latinos leaving the Democratic Party? Evidence from Exit Poll-


Key points from this article

– A key question in American politics is the direction of Latino voters. Donald Trump performed better with Latino voters in 2020 than in 2016, especially in places like South Texas and South Florida.

– However, an analysis of the long-term trend of Latino presidential voting shows that this growing voting bloc is not trending in one way or another.

– Latino voters seem to have a stronger influence on the presidency than any other population group.

Latino voting trend

The results of the recent election have suggested to some political strategists and pundits that the biased allegiance of Latino voters in the United States may shift to the Republican Party. Exit poll results for the 2020 presidential election show that Donald Trump increased his participation in the Latino vote, despite a decline in his national popular vote share between 2016 and 2020. At the same time, the results for South Florida and some of the heavier Latino areas around it have shown a dramatic swing toward the Texas-Mexico border GOP. Most recently, an exit poll showed that the Republican candidate won a majority of Latino votes in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, although a second exit poll showed that the Democratic candidate won a clear majority of Latino votes.

In states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, strong support among Latino voters is seen as important for the democratic chances of winning the election, and in many other states where the Latino voter turnout is growing rapidly. However, some Republican strategists now look to occupy the Latino vote based on the conservative views of some Latino voters on cultural and other issues. The long-term change in the biased allegiance of Latino voters will cause deep concern among Democratic Party leaders and strategists.

In this article, I use national exit election data to examine the trend of Latino support for Democratic presidential candidates between 1984 and 2020. I did not find any evidence of change in any of these data What I can see is a high degree of variability in the democratic margins among Latino voters in these 10 elections. While there is no clear trend on either side, a clear pattern has emerged – Latino support for Democratic presidential candidates seems to be strongly influenced by power.


Figure 1 shows the democratic margin among Latino voters in the last 10 presidential elections. The Latino share of voters has grown significantly during this period, from just 3% in the 1984 exit polls to 13% in the 2020 exit polls. The data in this figure show considerable variability in the form of democratic margins among Latino voters since 1984, with no clear trend. Although the Democratic presidential candidates have won Latino votes in each of these elections, their margin ranged from just 9 points for John Kerry to George W. Bush in 2004 to 51 points for Bill Clinton over Bob Doll in 1996. Joe Biden’s 33-point margin over Donald Trump in 2020 falls in the middle range for these 10 elections. In fact, it was slightly less than the 35 points of average democratic margin in the previous 9 elections.

Figure 1: Democratic gap between Latino voters in the presidential election, 1984-2020

Formula: National Exit Poll Data compiled by Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

The main conclusion drawn from the data in Figure 1 is that the democratic share of the Latino vote has changed dramatically in recent elections. This is also true in Florida, a state where the democratic share of the Latino vote has plummeted in 2020, presumably because Joe Biden had to pay the price for the state’s 29 electoral votes. According to the 2020 Florida Exit Poll, Biden won only 53% of Latino votes in Florida, down from 62% in 2016 and 60% in 2012. But that 53% of Latino votes was far from the worst performance by Democrats. Presidential candidate in the recent elections. According to exit polls, John Kerry won only 44% of the Latino vote in Florida in 2004, and Al Gore won only 48% in 2000. Even in 2008, when he took over the Sunshine State, Barack Obama won only 57% of the Latino vote. Vote according to the Florida Exit Poll.

Falling support among Latino voters was a major factor in Joe Biden’s disappointing performance in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous county. Biden won just 53% of the vote in Miami-Dade County, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 63% in 2016 and Barack Obama’s 62% in 2012. This fall in the Democratic part of the Miami-Dade vote was a major factor in Biden’s defeat in Florida. However, a look at past election results shows that Biden’s performance in Miami-Dade County was not unusual. Both John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 received only 53% of the vote in Miami-Dade County.

Similar patterns are evident in some counties in South Texas along the Mexican border. Hidalgo County, the most populous of these border counties, saw its Democratic vote share drop from 70% in 2012 and 68% in 2016 to 58% in 2020. However, Biden’s 58% vote share in 2020 was slightly better than John Kerry’s 55%. Divided the vote against George W. Bush in 2004.

Figure 2: Average Democratic Gap between Latino, Black and White Voters by Presidential Status

Formula: National Exit Poll Data compiled by Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

The similarity between Joe Biden in 2020 and John Kerry in 2004 is that both were competing for the current Republican presidency. An in-depth examination of the data in Figure 1 shows that in the last 10 presidential elections, Democratic candidates have won significantly more votes among Latinos than non-Democratic Democrats. Figure 2 shows the average margin of Democratic presidential candidates according to the status of power among white, black and Latino voters based on data from the National Exit Poll. The 20-point difference in democratic margins between Latino voters is much larger than the 6-point difference in margins between white voters or the 3-point margin difference between black voters in elections with Republicans and those with Democrats.

To determine whether the differences between elections with Democratic and Republican incumbents made sense, I conducted three regression analyzes using democratic margins between Latino, black, and white voters as dependent variables. Individual variables in each regression analysis were the current president’s party, which was coded as -1 for elections with a Republican president, 0 for elections with open seats, and +1 for elections with a democratic president. The results are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1: Results of the analysis of regression of democratic margins among Latino, black and white voters, 1984-2020

Formula: National Exit Poll Data compiled by Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

The results of Table 1 provide clear evidence for the effect of the state of power on the democratic share of the Latino vote. Although only 10 selections were included in the analysis, the approximate coefficient of the incumbency variable is statistically significant at the .025 level based on the one-tailed t-test. In contrast, the effects of responsible conditions are much smaller and are not statistically significant for black or white voters.


Evidence from national and state exit polls shows that Latino support for Democratic presidential candidates has been quite volatile in recent elections. Democratic margins have generally been much higher in elections with Democratic incumbents than in Republican incumbents in 2020. This kind of support among Latino voters also helps explain the variability of the Democratic margin in the recent election in Miami-Dade County. From this perspective, the collapse of democratic support in the 2020 presidential election may reflect a greater response from Latino voters than other types of voters to the influence of the presidency rather than any long-term change in the underlying bias of these voters. It is not clear why Latino voters appear to be more responsive to the presidential influence, but if this pattern persists again in 2024 and Joe Biden is running for a second term, we will see a return to democratic support among Latino voters, despite Biden’s approval in recent months. Ratings have been fairly weak with Latinos.

On the front, Democrats may or may not have long-term problems with Latino voters; However, it is worth noting that the overall pattern of Latino presidential voting is more variable than it may have been in the past few elections.

Alan I. Abramovitz Alban W. Professor of Political Science at Emery University in Berkeley and a senior columnist Saturday’s Crystal Ball. His latest book, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald TrumpPublished in 2018 by Yale University Press.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.