More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election -- a record for a midterm -- according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006.
Rapid population growth has helped fuel Latinos' increasing electoral participation. According to the Census Bureau, 50.5 million Hispanics were counted by the 2010 Census, up from 35.3 million in 2000. Over the same decade, the number of Latino eligible voters -- adults who are U.S. citizens -- also increased, from 13.2 million in 2000 to 21.3 million in 2010.
However, even though more Latinos than ever are participating in the nation's elections, their representation among the electorate remains below their representation in the general population. In 2010, 16.3% of the nation's population was Latino, but only 10.1% of eligible voters were Latino and fewer than 7% of voters were Latino.
This gap is driven by two demographic factors -- youth and non-citizenship. More than one-third of Latinos (34.9%) are younger than the voting age of 18, a share greater than that of any other group. And an additional 22.4% are of voting age, but are not U.S. citizens.
As a result, the share of the Latino population eligible to vote is smaller than it is among any other group. Just 42.7% of the nation's Latino population is eligible to vote, while more than three-in-four (77.7%) whites, two-thirds of blacks (67.2%) and more than half of Asians (52.8%) are eligible to vote.
Even so, the number of Latino eligible voters will continue to grow in the coming decades as a steady stream of U.S.-born Latinos become eligible to vote by turning age 18 -- more than 600,000 did so annually between 2006 and 2010.
Read the full report The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters on the Pew Hispanic Center Web site.