Latino vote crucial this year, and more than ever

For presidential candidates, hundreds of delegates are up for grabs today, Super Tuesday.

Who’s voting? A list is here.

Texas is the big prize, a prize that will seemingly go Republican in the general election and – as of today – is being led by Ted Cruz (R) and Hillary Clinton (D) in polling.

Texas, of course, has a substantial Latino population, and only recently has the Latino vote surfaced as a key part of this presidential election. It seems odd that we’re only getting here, since both Cruz and GOP candidate Marco Rubio are Latino. Moreover, illegal immigration has been a major GOP theme this time around, and arguably the Latino population is most affected by immigration policy.

But we’ve been talking about other things than the Latino vote, mostly because there are media truisms: Latinos vote Democrat, and the Latino vote isn’t yet a huge enough cohort to make a substantial difference.

That may be true on the surface, but look deeper, and candidates shouldn’t alienate this cohort. It’s crucial this year to get the Latino vote.

Currently Millennials make up 44 percent of the Latino vote, an impressive number because Generation X and Baby Boomer voters make up 48 percent. Millennials are far outpacing any generational group in the Latino voting community. The population is booming – the average age of Latinos in America is … 19. That’s amazing. By 2020 there will be more Millennials and next-gen voters than Gen-X and Boomer voters combined. By 2024 those two younger generations should be the Latino majority.

Here’s the point: Millennial voters today are the parents of the next-gen and next-next-gen voters of 2020 and 2024. Plus, Millennial voters need to be shaped today. They’re trending socially progressive and liberal leaning. If the Republican party has any interest in gaining the Latino vote, the time to attack is now. By 2020 it may be far too late already.