Census Data Shows Surge in Latino Political Power

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Earls (202) 261-2388

Census Data Shows Surge in Latino Political Power

America's Voice

WASHINGTON - New data from the U.S. Census Bureau highlight the dramatic increase of the Latino population over the past decade, in both traditional “gateway” states and throughout the nation, with Latinos now comprising more than 1 in 6 Americans.  According to Associated Press analysis of the new data, minority population growth makes up 90 percent of the total U.S. population growth since 2000.  As William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer, concluded, “The 2010 census shows vividly how these new minorities are both leading growth in the nation’s most dynamic regions and stemming decline in others.”

From a political perspective, the new numbers should be a wake-up call for anti-immigrant politicians heading into the 2012 elections, with key Senate races and the Presidency at stake.  Every available poll—and every election to date—has shown that Latino voters are turned off by candidates who espouse anti-immigrant views.   Bob Moore, a Republican pollster, told The Hill, if 2012 races are “all about the economy, there's a major opening for a Republican candidate to appeal to Latino voters…But if it becomes about immigration, then it could be problematic for the Republican nominee."

But with Republicans like Lamar Smith, Steve King, Elton Gallegly, and Jeff Sessions at the helm on immigration policy for the GOP, and the likelihood that the immigration issue will loom large in a number of Republican primaries, the GOP will be hard pressed to change the subject when talking to Latino voters.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The Census findings are the exact reason why Republicans should be very, very concerned with Lamar Smith, Elton Gallegly, and Steve King defining the GOP agenda on immigration.  With Spanish-language media covering their antics in real time, and with no voices of Congressional Republicans charting a different course for the Party on immigration, the GOP is becoming branded as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino by the fastest-growing group of voters in the nation.”

Some GOP strategists are engaged in wishful thinking.  Al Cardenas, the head of the American Conservative Union, asserted that the “key to it is not so much the substance of views, but the quality and compassion of your delivery.”  But Latino voters do care about the substance of a candidate’s views, not just their tone.  For the GOP to truly change its image with Latino voters, it needs a conversion on immigration reform, not just a smiley face plastered on an enforcement-only agenda.

In polling by Latino Decisions in eight states with sizeable Latino voting blocs found, 60% of Latino voters said the issue of immigration was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues in determining their vote in 2010 – numbers that are even higher among Spanish-dominant voters.  Polling of Latino voters in twelve states by Bendixen & Amandi found that 72% of Latino voters would not consider voting for a congressional candidate who was in favor of forcing most undocumented immigrants to leave the country (vs. only 19% of Latino voters who would consider it).

Said Sharry, “In 2008, Latino voters made a huge difference in four key swing states – Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida.  In 2010 Latino voters served as the firewall in the west that saved the Senate for the Democrats.  In 2012, Latinos will be an even bigger factor in determining which party controls the White House and Congress.  In what remains a closely-divided political nation, Latino voters could well determine which party dominates American politics for the next generation.”

Below is a snapshot of the new Census data regarding Latino population growth in selected potential 2012 presidential and Senate battlegrounds.  For a more in-depth look, visit America’s Voice Education Fund’s new fact sheet on the Census numbers and Latino population growth.
 

STATE         

Net Growth of Latino Population

% Change in Latino Population

% of Total Growth in State Population Due to Latinos

Arizona

599,532

46.27%

47.53%

California

3,047,163

27.79%

90.09%

Colorado

303,086

41.20%

41.63%

Florida

1,541,091

57.44%

54.67%

Missouri

93,878

79.16%

23.84%

Nevada

322,531

81.87%

45.93%

New Mexico

188,017

24.56%

78.30%

North Carolina

421,157

111.13%

28.34%

Texas

2,791,255

41.85%

65.01%

Virginia

302,285

91.73%

32.77%

Read America’s Voice Education Fund Report, The New Constituents: How Latinos Will Shape Congressional Apportionment After the 2010 Census
 

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America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America’s Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.

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