Wilkes University


Wilkes University Professors Say Minority Voters In Swing States Hold Key To Presidential Election

Two Wilkes University professors say that high concentrations of minority voters in swing states – not the popular vote -- is the key to victory in the election for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Latino and African American voters, who were critical constituencies in Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and 2012, continue to be key. 

Kyle Kreider, associate professor of political science, and Thomas Baldino, professor of political science are co-editors of Minority Voting in the United States, published in 2015 by Praeger. Their two-volume, 33-chapter collection of essays traces the voting patterns and election history of minority voters. They say the role of minority voters – a factor in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 wins -- continues to evolve.

“You see minority groups having the potential to help a candidate carry states and deliver the electoral votes needed to win the election,” Kreider says. He cited states such as Virginia, which has high concentrations of Asian Americans and African Americans and North Carolina, which has a high number of African Americans and a growing Latino population.

“Florida, with a mixed Latino population, also will be key,” Kreider adds. He notes that older Cuban-Americans have historically voted for more conservative candidates. They are giving way to a younger generation of Cuban voters who are less concerned with the anti-Communist and conservative values that were important to their parents and grandparents.  

Scholars studying Hispanic voters also note that immigration is not the only issue of concern for the group, Baldino explains.

“It is a threshold issue for them,” Baldino says. “They care about more than immigration, but if a candidate speaks about immigration negatively, the language makes them feel unwelcome, and they won’t be voting for that candidate.”

That means Donald Trump will have a difficult time, he says, noting “there is no nuance to Trump’s language about immigration.”

That will make a challenging situation more challenging for the GOP candidate. Kreider says that the share of the Hispanic vote for the GOP ticket has been shrinking.

 “In 2004, George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.  In 2008, McCain won 31 percent of the Hispanic vote and in 2012, Romney won only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote,” Kreider explains. “In 2016, Trump is polling around 21 percent.  This means that in order for Trump to win, he is going to have to improve in other areas  -- women, whites, etc. ==  to make up for the declining Hispanic vote for the GOP.”

Baldino and Kreider’s book analyzes the evolving politics of eight minority groups, including African Americans, Latinos, women, Jewish voters, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, Asian Americans and members of the lesbian, gay and transgender community. Chapters are written by political scientists, sociologists and others knowledgeable about specific minority groups. Among the common themes identified by Baldino and Kreider while editing the book are that all minority groups have faced discrimination, that most minority group members favor liberal social and political policies and view government as a positive force in their lives and that many are not registered to vote or, if they are, do not vote regularly.