Hispanic voter registration in Florida rises to record 2.1 million


A new study finds that the number of Hispanic registered voters in Florida has increased to a record 2.1 million people.

Since the 2016 presidential election, the number of Hispanic registered voters in the Sunshine State increased by 6.2 percent, according to the Pew Research Center, which analyzed Florida Division of Election data from 2006 to Aug. 31, 2018 (Florida's voter registration deadline was Oct. 9).

That surge of growth was slightly faster than during the 2014 and 2010 midterms, which saw 4.6 percent and 5.2 percent increases respectively over the prior presidential election year, the report said.

Pew's analysis also found that Puerto Ricans now account for an estimated 31 percent of the 3 million eligible Hispanic voters in Florida – a similar share to that of Cubans in the Sunshine State.

"Puerto Ricans have been the state’s fastest-growing Hispanic-origin group over the past decade, and thousands more arrived from the island following Hurricanes María and Irma in 2017," the study said. "Between 2005 and 2016, about a third of these migrants settled in Florida, in an area between the Orlando and Tampa Bay metro areas known as the Interstate 4 corridor. The state’s Puerto Rican population now rivals that of New York, the main destination of the mid-20th century’s migration from the island."

The report notes, though, that it's unclear to what extent the recent migration of Puerto Rican evacuees accounts for the rise in Hispanic registered voters in the 2018 election cycle.

Out of all of Florida's registered voters, Hispanic voters now make up 16.4 percent of that total, up from 15.7 percent in 2016, the Pew study said.

Central Florida counties along the Interstate 4 corridor account for some of the largest growths in registered Hispanic voters since 2016 and in many cases, beat the statewide average of 6.2 percent. While Orange County saw a 6.2 percent growth, places like Polk (16.8 percent), Pasco (15.9 percent), Osceola (14.9 percent), Lake (14.1 percent), Volusia (13.8 percent), Hernando (12.4 percent), Pinellas (9.3 percent) and Seminole (8.8 percent)  saw much bigger gains.

The study also found that Florida's Hispanic registered voters who are Democrats (837,000) outnumber Republicans (527,000) as of Aug 31. Hispanic voters with no party affiliation also far outnumber Republicans at 775,000 voters.

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