How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Latino, Asian voters still lag in turnout in spite of numbers

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

A report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center on the Latino electorate in 2010 led to very different headlines as news outlets reported the results, and for good reason.

"Latinos voted in record numbers in 2010 elections," read the headline in USA Today. The headline in the Washington Post, "Latino and Asian voters mostly sat out 2010 election, report says," indicated a different story altogether.

But both interpretations are correct. According to the report, more than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election, setting a record for a midterm election. Latino voters also made up a larger share of the electorate than in any previous midterm election. They represented 6.9 percent of all voters, up from 5.8 percent in 2006.

All that said, Latinos showed poorly at the polls when considering their sheer numbers - more than 50 million of them in the U.S., per the 2010 Census. From a summary of the Pew voter report:

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Report: Where Latino votes will matter most

Source: Latino Decisions

Screen shot from new report, "Where Latino Votes Will Matter in 2012"

The polling firm Latino Decisions has put together an interesting chart using census data that lists the potential states where Latino voters might have the most influence in the November 2012 presidential and U.S. Senate election outcome. The chart lists the percentage of Latinos among those eligible to vote, along with an estimate of how many Latinos who are eligible to vote aren't yet registered.

One of the questions to come out of the 2010 Census has been whether or not the dramatic growth of the U.S. Latino population - now more than 50 million strong - translates into near-term political clout, not only in terms of redistricting based on population counts, but in terms of general Latino votes. From the report that accompanies the chart, released today:

By the 2012 election, Latinos will account for over 10% of the citizen adult population – potential voters – in 11 states. In another 13 states, Latino account for 5-10% of the citizen adult population. All told, that’s 24 states where Latinos have the capacity to influence electoral outcomes, given a competitive statewide election.

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Five good explanations of what the census results mean for California

Photo by Michelle Kinsey Bruns/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Yesterday's 2010 Census results for California revealed what was already expected, an increasingly diverse state in which ethnic minorities have together become a majority. Latinos and Asian Americans alone - 37.6 and 12.8 percent of the population, respectively - now make up half the state's residents.

What does this mean for the state, politically and culturally? There have been several good explanations today, among them:


  • A story in the Los Angeles Times explained how the census results will help shift political power around the state; an interactive map of California's congressional districts shows each district's racial and ethnic breakdown, and helps explain the redistricting process. From the story:


Political power will shift away from traditional strongholds such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and into the Inland Empire and Central Valley. Minorities, whose representation in the Legislature and the California congressional delegation has never matched their population numbers, could see increased opportunities to gain control of elected offices.

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Compton: A shifting population, except in City Hall

NYTimes.com

Screen shot of a race and ethnicity map of the Compton area from the New York Times' "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block" interactive project. Blue dots represent African Americans, yellow dots represent Latinos, red dots represent Asians and green dots represent whites. Each dot represents 25 people.

When the initial 2010 census results were released last month, the attention quickly turned to the nation's growing Latino population and, in turn, how it will shape the political landscape.

While the U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release new data on race and ethnicity, it's already clear that some of the states with the biggest population growth, and which will gain Congressional seats, also happen to be states where Latinos have come to represent a bigger chunk of the population in recent years. But does this necessarily translate into more political clout for Latinos? And as these population shifts take place, what shape do they take at the neighborhood level, culturally and politically?

An interesting case study is playing out in Compton, a working-class Los Angeles County city that was long predominantly African American (some may remember it as the Compton of N.W.A's 1988 hip hop classic Straight Outta Compton) but where Latinos now make up two-thirds of the population.

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Making sense of the census: Population growth and Latino political clout

U.S. Census Bureau

So this we know from the 2010 Census, the initial results of which were released today: There are now 308,745,538 people believed to be living in the United States. California remains the nation's most populous state, though its population only grew by 10 percent since 2000, not enough for the state to gain any new seats in Congress. The bulk of the population growth is concentrated in the West and South, with Nevada (up 35 percent) and Texas (up 20 percent) among the big population winners.

The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specifics on race and ethnicity. However, much is already being made of the population growth in terms of growing Latino political influence, since some of the states with the most growth, and which will gain representation, are also states with large numbers of Latino residents. The growth in states that tend to vote Republican has been described in some early reports as a hands-down gain for the GOP, but the ethnic factor provides an intriguing wrinkle. Here are a few stories that help put the data in ethnic/political perspective:

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