Immigrants Poised to Play Deciding Role in 2020 Election

As the nation begins to segue into the spring season, a monumental event looms ever closer: the 2020 general election. In a mere eight months, Americans will cast their votes for president, as well as for both chambers of Congress. While the Democratic Party has yet to determine the nominee, who will face off against the incumbent Republican, President Trump, the 2020 campaign cycle has already proven arguably to be the most contentious in modern history.

As Americans prepare to make their choice in November, one demographic may hold the key to deciding the outcome: immigrants. A study recently released by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank focused on illuminating the public about global trends, attitudes, and issues, reveals that the number of immigrants who are eligible voters in the United States has nearly doubled over the last two decades, to 23 million people. This immigrant voter demographic is comprised of naturalized U.S. citizens, 18 years old or over, and makes up ten percent of the total national electorate – an all-time high.

Researchers attribute this astronomical growth in eligible immigrant voters to a couple of key factors. First, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has risen overall since the mid 1960s, when many immigration quotas where lifted. Secondly, more immigrants have chosen to naturalize in the past ten years than in decades prior. As naturalization is virtually the only avenue for immigrants to attain the constitutional right to vote, immigrants now consequently wield more power as a voting bloc.

Overall, the U.S. tends to have a relatively low voter turnout, with only some 62 percent of eligible voters showing up to vote during presidential election years. The rate for naturalized citizens is even lower, with only some 54 percent coming out to vote. However, among Hispanic and Asian voters, those who are naturalized citizens tend to vote at a higher rate than their U.S.-born counterparts. And naturalized citizens from Latin American and Asia make up the majority of foreign-born eligible voters, at 34 percent and 31 percent, respectively. While immigrants are hardly a monolithic voting bloc, this does show that these are potential voters whom politicians cannot afford to ignore. With immigration such a hot-button issue in recent years, there is the real possibility that foreign-born voters who are living the American dream may play a deciding role in November’s election. [See Naturalized Citizens Make Up Record One-in-Ten U.S. Eligible Voters in 2020 by Abby Budiman, Luis Noe-Bustamante, and Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research Center, 26.Feb.2020.]


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