LOS ANGELES — There are 36.2 million eligible Hispanic voters this year, making it a four million person increase since 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. 

With Latino voters making up larger shares of the voting block, their vote has become key to winning — and both parties know it. 

What You Need To Know

  • Latino voters have become a key group to winning the presidential election 

  • The latest studies show Democrats are slowly losing the stronghold they had among Latino voters 

  • Political consultants attribute that shift to a generational shift in the voting group

  • Despite the gradual change, a majority of Latinos still vote Democrat

The Latino vote has historically been a stronghold for Democrats, but a Gallup news poll from this year shows stronghold is slowly slipping, hitting a new 20-year low among voters.  

In 2020, former President Donald Trump made some gains with Latino voters, although President Joe Biden kept the advantage by taking 59% of the votes, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. 

One of those voters who did support Donald Trump in past elections is 38-year-old Katharine Zavala, a daughter of Mexican immigrants who was raised in a Democrat household and is now conservative leaning. 

“I think what happened with my parents’ generation is they felt loyal to their parents,” said Zavala. 

But as she watched her 18-year-old daughter host her own political podcast, Zavala says she’s not thinking about her ancestors when heading to the polls. 

“Am I going to vote for someone who’s coming from one of these impoverished nations to have a shot here? Or am I going to give the shot to my grandchild and secure employment for them so that they don’t end up having to be in that similar situation? It’s self-preservation,” said Zavala. 

It’s a generational difference Political Consultant Mike Madrid explores in his book “The Latino Century: How America’s Largest Minority Is Transforming Democracy.” 

“In 2002, 52% of new Latino registrants in Los Angeles County were foreign-born. And 20 years later, by 2022, that number was less than 9%. That’s how dramatic and how fast this demographic shift is happening,” said Madrid. 

He explains that is why newer generations are not connecting with the Democratic Party’s message the same way their parents did. 

“So the demographic change has already happened. You can’t build a wall to stop it. The fastest growing group is the third generation. These are voters very far removed from the immigrant experience. Yet both parties are talking to Latino voters as if those are the primary issues,” said Madrid. 

He explains that both the Republican and Democrat parties have not updated their message to reflect the new concerns, such as pocketbook issues. 

“Third and fourth generations primarily view themselves as typical Americans far more than they do as somebody from another country, because they’re not from another country. And that’s the real big error that both parties are making,” said Madrid. 

For Zavala, it was a switch she never imagined making, sharing she had grown up with many of her parent’s left-leaning and socialist views. Becoming a mother was a pivotal point for her, saying it’s when she gradually became more conservative. 

“I felt like the conservative movement did a really good job at reaching out to mothers and sympathizing with that struggle of doing all the work and not getting any of the things,” said Zavala. 

Her first two daughters attended public school, but says she homeschooled after disagreeing with curriculum. 

“I just felt like, okay, well, I don’t know if I want my kindergartner, my five- or six-year-old to discuss what different families look like. And that had to do in terms of same-sex couples, bringing sex into the topic. I just felt like just weird,” said Zavala. 

Her daughter, Elizabeth Santana-Zavala, will now vote in her first general election this November and says although she is still not completely decided, will most likely vote red down the ballot. 

“There are quite a few reasons why I lean more conservative. I think one of those is, of course, the pro-life, because even though I sort of disagree with how it should be handled, I’m still very much pro-life,” said Santana-Zavala. 

Although she says she is not 100% on board with either party. 

“Before we used to be enamored with these parties, that we used to follow them and go to battle for, but now we’re kind of seeing them let us down in so many different ways. So I think right now, currently going forward, I think we’re going to see a lot stronger center,” said Santana Zavala. 


Those center views are why Madrid says Latinos are not becoming more conservative, but rather moving away from Democrats. 

“The fastest growing group of nonaffiliated nonpartisan voters are Latinos in California. By any stretch, any measure, Latinos have the weakest partisan anchor and we demonstrate as a community some of the strongest populist voting behavior,” said Madrid. 

He is expecting to see a move away from correlating an ethnic identity to a political party. 

“Only in California has being a Latino Republican been kind of a peculiar anomaly. That’s changing. California is finally catching up to the rest of the country. We have been an outlier for the past 30 years, or so, but now even our politics in our community is starting to reflect the broader change that is happening in this country,” said Madrid. 

A change Zavala is part of and expecting to continue to see.  

“It’s self-preservation. I think that’s what it is right now, economically speaking. I think that’s where the loyalties lie now,” said Zavala. 

She says she is keeping that in mind as she heads to the polls this November.