Economy and education top concerns for Latino voters

It’s no secret that winning over Latino voters will be key to winning over the White House in 2016. However, while Democrats insist that wooing Latino votes means pushing immigration reform, a new Pew Research Center poll has found that Hispanics care most about the economy and education:

It’s clear why economics matters: Latinos lost the most wealth during the recession of any race in America. They work many low-wage jobs, yet they are also becoming an engine of small business growth in the U.S. The majority of Hispanic workers are now U.S.-born citizens, not immigrants crossing the border.

The policies presidential candidates take toward the Latino economy could hold huge weight over who becomes the next Commander-in-Chief. President Obama won 71% of the Latino vote in 2012, helping him defeat Mitt Romney.


Education was the second most important issue to Hispanics in the 2012 election (behind the economy). It’s risen to No. 1 in some recent polls.

It makes sense: Latinos have the highest birth rate in America, 80 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That compares with 64 for blacks, 59 for whites and 56 for Asians.

The Hispanic population has increased by more than 50% since 2000, according to Pew.

That’s a lot of people seeking a better education. Latinos who have the same education as whites — such as a college degree — are paid almost $200 less per week, according to Labor Department data.

Like jobs, some Latinos arguably have a quality-of-education problem. Many earn degrees from community colleges, making it hard to compete against graduates from more elite universities, experts say.

“Continuing to have educational opportunities is something that’s equally as important as jobs,” says Domino Perez, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas.

Of course, one could argue that immigration reform would help bolster job and education opportunities for Hispanics — but not necessarily for the ones who are already U.S. citizens. And they’re the only ones who should be voting… right?