Population Estimates

This report uses two different, but similar, estimates of the voting-eligible population (or the electorate) for November 2016. Both define the voting-eligible population as U.S. citizens aged 18 years and older in November 2016. The survey-based estimates are used to describe characteristics of the voting-eligible population (e.g., educational attainment); the demographic estimates are used to decompose the change in Hispanic electorate since November 2012 (into U.S. citizens reaching voting age, newly eligible naturalized U.S. citizens, and so on).

The November 2015 Current Population Survey (CPS) provides the data for characteristics of the voting-eligible population in November 2016. This group is defined simply as U.S. citizens who will be aged 18 years and older in November 2016—that is, U.S. citizens aged 17 years and older in the November 2015 CPS. Although the November 2015 group differs somewhat from the expected population of U.S. citizens in November 2016, the broad characteristics are likely to be quite similar. Thus, appendix table A1 is based on estimates from the November 2015 Current Population Survey. The total projected Hispanic eligible voters differs slightly from the 27.3 million that was estimated using the methodology outlined below.

To assess how the electorate will have changed between 2012 and 2016, we constructed an estimate of the November 2016 U.S. citizen population aged 18 years and older beginning with the November 2012 population and demographic components; specifically:

U.S. citizens aged 18 years and older, November 2016 =
U.S. citizens aged 18 years and older, November 2012 (I) +
U.S. citizens reaching age 18, November 2012-2016 (II) +
Immigrants becoming U.S. citizens, i.e., naturalizing, November 2012-2016 (III) +
Net movement from Puerto Rico of U.S. citizens, November 2012-2016 (IV) –
U.S. citizens aged 18 years and older dying, November 2012-2016 (V)

The basic data for these components are from the November CPS for 2008-2015, the American Community Survey (ACS) for 2008-2014 and the Puerto Rican Community Survey (PRCS) for 2008-2014. We did tabulations of CPS data online using the Census Bureau’s DataFerrett tabulation program (http://dataferrett.census.gov/) or microdata downloaded from the Census Bureau’s FTP website (http://thedataweb.rm.census.gov/ftp/cps_ftp.html). For the ACS and PRCS, we did tabulations online from the 1% samples of the Integration Public-Use Microdata Series (IPUMS, www.ipums.org). All computations were done for the Hispanic origin population and for non-Hispanic race groups (single race and multiple race). The initial population of citizens ages 18 and older in November 2012 (I) is a tabulation from the November 2012 CPS.

The estimate of U.S. citizens reaching age 18 between November 2012 and November 2016 (II) is the average across four November CPS, 2012-2015. Use of the average smooths out reporting and coverage differences across the four surveys. The age groups are: ages 14-17 in November 2012, 15-18 in 2013, 16-19 in 2014 and 17-20 in 2015.

The initial data for estimating the number of immigrants who become U.S. citizens between November 2012 and November 2016 (III) draw on ACS information on year of naturalization for immigrants who have naturalized. From the 2008-2014 ACS, the number of immigrants who are naturalized in each calendar year was estimated for immigrants who would be 18 and older in 2016 as the average across the available ACS years. Data for partial years (e.g., naturalizations in 2014 from the 2014 ACS) were adjusted to full years using the average correction factor the preceding five years or the total number of years available. Projections for 2015-2016 use average annual naturalizations for 2012-2014. The component of change in the above equation is the sum of estimates for calendar years 2013-2016.

Net movement from Puerto Rico is based on the “residence one year ago” question on the ACS and PRCS. From the 2008-2014 ACS, we tabulated U.S. citizens who lived in Puerto Rico (and Guam and other U.S. territories) by age for race and Hispanic groups. Similarly, from the 2008-2014 PRCS, we tabulated U.S. citizens who lived in the U.S. one year before the survey. Net movement for each survey year is the difference between the ACS data and PRCS data; for the component estimate, we calculated net movement of U.S. citizens for the group who would be 18 or over in 2016. For each calendar year, the estimate of net movement is the average of adjacent survey years; e.g., the estimate for calendar 2013 is the average of the 2013 and 2014 surveys. Net movement for 2015-2016 is estimated as the average of 2011-2014.

Deaths of U.S. citizens ages 18 and over for 2012-2016 (V) are estimated with the U.S. life tables by sex and were used by the Pew Research Center in recent population projections (Pew Research Center, 2015).

The estimation process was also carried out for the change between November 2008 and November 2012 using CPS data for November 2008-2011. No projections were necessary as the CPS, ACS and PRCS are available for all years covered by the estimate.

Educational Attainment Projections

Projections for educational attainment in 2016 are based on levels of educational attainment among U.S. citizens ages 17 and older in 2015. In addition, since many 17- and 18-year-olds in 2015 have not yet finished high school, but will have done so by November 2016, shares of “less than high school,” “high school graduate” and “two-year degree/some college” are adjusted by applying the education attainment levels for U.S. citizen 18-year-olds in 2015 to the population of U.S. citizen 17-year-olds in 2015.

The rate of 18-year-old Hispanic citizens who have completed less than high school (52.9%) was multiplied by the total number of 17-year-old Hispanic citizens (837,000) to produce an estimated 443,000 17-year-olds in 2016 that will have less than a high school diploma. This was similarly done for high school graduates and those with a two-year degree or some college.

The adjusted 17-year-old educational levels were then added to the original 2015 18 and older analysis to produce an estimate of educational attainment levels for U.S. citizens ages 18 and older for 2016. This method was similarly applied to whites, blacks and Asians.

Education Levels of Hispanic Eligible Voters 2015 and 2016 Projection