An Analysis of Partisan Voting Trends in Majority-Minority Districts
In some majority-minority districts, our model predicts an entirely different election outcome than the district’s history indicates. Majority Hispanic FL-27 and CA-10, 25, and 39, among others, all have strong Republican electoral histories but are predicted to vote Democratic by ORACLE. FL-27 is one example of this—though the 74.43% Hispanic district voted 58.00% Republican and 54.89% Republican in 2014 and 2016 house elections, respectively, our current prediction for the district is a 45.82% Republican vote, which would result in a Democratic win.
In the 2016 presidential election, 29% of Hispanic voters and 8% of Black voters voted for Trump, each two percentage points above the corresponding percentages from the 2012 presidential election. In order to determine whether we are seeing a new voting trend in minority populations, we analyzed the voting trends in each majority-minority district based on its racial plurality, or which racial group made up the largest percentage of the population.
We located historic congressional election data for the 122 districts that Ballotpedia found to have minority populations over 50%. We then separated the districts according to the largest minority racial group, resulting in 30 districts with a Black plurality and 52 with a Hispanic plurality.
Hispanic or Latino
Black or African American
The first trend we noticed is that majority-minority districts in California, Texas and Florida tend to vote considerably more Republican than other districts with similar percentages of minority groups. This was primarily true for majority-Hispanic districts, such as FL-27, which is 75.43% Hispanic and voted 54.89% Republican in the 2016 House election, or CA-21, which is 75.27% Hispanic and voted 56.7% Republican in the same election (despite voting Democratic in most past presidential elections). In fact, of the 20 majority-minority districts that have voted consistently Republican in each House election since 2014, 8 were plurality-Hispanic (most of the rest were plurality-White), and 9 out of the 52 plurality-Hispanic districts voted Republican in at least one of these elections. However, it’s important to note that the electoral leanings of various ethnic groups differ. For example, Puerto Ricans tend to vote more Democratic than Cuban-Americans do.
In general, though Hispanic voters are a Democratic-voting constituency, they have historically had a considerable percentage of Republican votes. According to the Pew Research Center, 36% of Hispanic voters nationwide voted Republican in the 2014 congressional elections. In 2012, 27% of Hispanics voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while 38% of Hispanic voters supported Republican candidates in congressional races in 2010 (Krogstad and Lopez).
Many of our model’s predictions for these plurality-Hispanic districts, however, seem to lean considerably Democratic. In 53.77% Hispanic district NM-02, for instance, though 64.48% of voters voted Republican in 2014 House elections and 62.75% voted Republican in 2016 House elections, our model predicts only a 51.40% Republican vote in the upcoming midterms. According to our model, the Republican vote percentage should decrease by more than 11% in just two years, despite a less than 2% shift in the two years prior. A similar trend exists in 75.43% Hispanic FL-27, where, despite a 54.89% Republican House election in 2016, we predict a 45.82% Democratic vote in this year’s midterm.
Figure 2: House Voting Trends in Minority Districts
Still, 44.26% of majority-minority districts exhibited a decrease in the predicted percentage of Democratic House votes from 2016 to 2018 according to our model. Compared to 2016, ORACLE predicts a 5.92% increase in the Democratic 2-party vote percentage for majority-minority districts overall. There is a particularly significant increase in the average predicted Democratic vote share in plurality-Black districts, in which ORACLE predicts an increase of 9.05%. In plurality-Hispanic districts, the predicted increase since 2016 is 5.30%.
Our model has shown that overall, the Democratic vote percentage in majority-minority districts has gone up from 2014. However, for select historically-Republican districts, they've become a stronger Republican district, and for some other districts that have swung back and forth between Republican and Democratic candidates, we're seeing a lower Democratic vote percentage. We’ll have to wait until the election to see which way the trend really goes.
Krogstad, Jens Manuel, and Mark Hugo Lopez. “Hispanic Voters in the 2014 Election | Pew
Research Center.” Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project, Pew Research Center, 10 Nov. 2014, www.pewhispanic.org/2014/11/07/hispanic-voters-in-the-2014-election/.