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Hispanics turned out in record numbers on Tuesday, proving decisive in some states

More than 13.5 million Latinos voted. Their vote was crucial for Clinton's victories in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, but not enough to win Arizona or Florida.
11 Nov 2016 – 04:37 PM EST

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Hundreds of voters cast their ballots in Meadows Mall in Clark County. Crédito: Getty Images

Hispanic voters notched a record turnout in Tuesday's elections, eclipsing even the predictions of organizations pushing to get out them to the polls.

An estimated 13.5 million Hispanics cast ballots, according to exit polls by the National Election Pool and estimates by Univision News and the Cifras y Conceptos analysis company. That's 47 percent of the 28 million Latinos registered to vote, compared to the 42 percent that turned out for the 2012 elections.

The turnout Tuesday matched forecasts by Univision News but was higher than the about 13 million predicted by organizations such as the Pew Research Center and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

To be sure, the number of Hispanic voters was almost certain to increase this year because of this population's demographic growth. There were 4 million more registered Hispanic voters than in 2012.

The higher turnout was more remarkable when compared to the 5 percent drop among all voters from the 2012 elections and 6 percent drop from 2008, when President Barack Obama won. About 113 million people voted Tuesday, compared to 118 million in 2012.

What's more, while Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral college vote, reviews by Univision and Cifras y Conceptos showed the influence of Hispanic voters was clearly felt in three swing states she won – Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

If Hispanics had not voted in those three states, Trump would have won them handily. In Colorado, for example, he would have defeated Clinton 40.5 percent to 38.5 percent. The 219,000 votes cast by Hispanics in the state put her ahead of the Republican.

The Latino vote secured Clinton wins in three states

Without Hispanics the story would have been very different for Clinton in those states.

The increased turnout among Hispanic voters packed a bigger punch because of the lower turnout among other voters.

Hispanics in Nevada accounted for 18 percent of the turnout, compared to the 14.5 percent predicted by Univision. In Nevada they were more than 3 percentage points above the forecast and in New Mexico they hit 40 percent, compared to the Univision estimate of 35 percent.

In Arizona and Florida, states that Clinton lost by a narrow margin, Trump would have won even more decisively had Hispanics not voted. The Republican would have won by 9 and 7 percent on those states, respectively, compared to his actual margins of 4.4 and 1.3 percent.

In Florida the exit poll found that Cuban American voters supported Trump 54-41percent. Non-Cuban Hispanics backed Clinton 71-26 percent.

Without the Hispanic vote the margin for Trump would have been greater.

Latinos favored Clinton. But in Florida and Arizona it wasn’t enough to win.

The increased Hispanic turnout in Arizona and Florida could not counterbalance the support for Trump among non-Hispanic white voters. Trump also performed surprisingly well among Hispanic voters at the national level, according to the National Election Pool exit poll, winning 2 percentage points more among Latinos than fellow Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012.

Clinton underperformed among Hispanics when compared to past support for Obama, the National Election Pool exit poll found. The outgoing president won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012 but Clinton won 65 percent, according to 2016 exit poll.

However, the National Election pool data is hotly contested by Latino Decisions, a Democrat leaning polling firm, who say Clinton won 79 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to only 18 percent for Trump. Latino Decisions has questioned the methodology of the polling firm hired by the National Election Poll - Edison Research - saying the survey's 25,000 respondents failed to include a representative sample of Latinos.

After all the ballots were counted, Hispanics accounted for 20 of the 228 electoral college seats won by Clinton – and could have added 29 more if she had won Florida.

Juan Martín Clavijo contributed to this report.