The American Immigration Council’s recent analysis highlights the significant electoral impact of naturalized citizens in the United States, particularly as the 2024 presidential election approaches. Currently, there are over 23 million immigrants in the U.S. who are eligible to vote, a figure that represents a significant portion of the electorate.
This growing number of foreign-born eligible voters, accounting for about 1 in 10 of all eligible voters, is unprecedented in the American electoral landscape. The influence of these voters is particularly crucial in swing states, where elections are often decided by narrow margins. For example, the 2020 presidential election saw key victories in states like Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by relatively small vote counts.
Historically, foreign-born voters have shown a tendency to favor Democratic candidates. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won 64 percent of the foreign-born vote, compared to Donald Trump’s 31 percent, according to CNN exit polls. In contrast, Trump won 49 percent of the native-born American vote.
The analysis also sheds light on the future trajectory of the foreign-born population in the U.S., which is expected to reach a record 50 million under President Joe Biden’s administration. The majority of legal immigrants to the U.S. come through “chain migration,” where newly naturalized citizens can sponsor an unlimited number of green cards for foreign relatives.
By 2043, if legal immigration levels remain unchanged, the U.S. could see an additional 15 million foreign-born voters in the American electorate, with a significant portion arriving through chain migration. This trend underscores the growing influence of foreign-born voters in U.S. elections and the potential for these demographics to shape future political outcomes.