Hispanic Americans Lean As Libertarian As Whites



Libertarianism has a reputation in America for being the province of old white dudes (perhaps old and young white dudes if critics are feeling magnanimous). But parsing a recent survey from Pew Research Center, Townhall.com columnist Rachel Burger digs up a counternarrative: Almost as many Hispanic Americans identify as libertarian as do white Americans. 

In the survey, about 11 percent of all Americans identified as libertarian (while also being able to identify with what the word means; if we include the ignorant, the figure jumps to 14 percent!). This included 11 percent of Hispanics, 12 percent of whites, and three percent of blacks. 

"So what's going on here?" asks Burger, noting that Hispanics in America have come to be associated with support for Democrat policies. She suggests that it's millennial Hispanics leading the shift. More than half of the American Hispanic population (65 percent) is currently between the ages of 22 to 35. And while this group largely supported Obama once upon a time, their support has been waning. Hispanic young people's support for Obama has dropped nine percent since 2010. (White millennial support dropped 12 points in this period, while black millennial support remained unchanged.) 

Barbara Sostiata, a Yale PhD candidate studying Latina/o religious traditions, told Burger: 

Hispanic Millennials have been largely ignored by both main political parties and are looking for alternatives to the status quo. Our biggest concerns are access to education and economic empowerment, immigration, and prison reform. Both parties and their ideologies fail to address these concerns and Hispanic Millennials are looking for answers.

Burger also notes strong Hispanic millennial support for gay marriage and legal marijuana.

None of this necessarily means millennial Hispanics are more likely to identify libertarian than older Hispanics. While it certainly seems plausible that they're driving the trend, there's no hard evidence in either the Pew study or Burger's piece to back this up. The Pew Study did note that millennials in general were slightly more likely than older cohorts to identify as libertarian.

In a 2013 Gallup poll, Hispanic Americans of all ages were more likely to identify as Democrat than Republican. But in keeping with millennials at large, young Hispanics were much more likely than their elders to identify as politically independent (53 percent, versus 37 percent of boomers and 29 percent of those 65 and older) and slightly more likeley than older Hispanics to lean Republican. Millennial Hispanics are also less likely than to be religious—among 18- to 29-year-olds, there's been a large shift away from Catholicism toward no religious affiliation, according to a Pew poll from earlier this year.