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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Asian and Latino Population Growth Isn't Translating Into Votes Just Yet

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Future voter - VIA FLICKR

Over the past few years, political journalists and social scientists have pointed out a critical flaw in the GOP's rightward lurch: With staunch anti-immigration, anti-social service, and anti-reproductive rights policies, as well as hostile racially coded rhetoric, the party risks losing women and minority voters.

It might still be a winning strategy in November. Real Clear Politics' David Paul Kuhn calculated that Mitt Romney will likely win if he captures 61 percent of the white vote.

But longterm, the strategy should be especially concerning to Republicans considering, for the first time in our nation's history, more minority babies are born than white babies. Simply put, the GOP is handing Democrats a significant demographic advantage.

Of course, it is far too soon for lefties to toast to a coming progressive revolution. 

As a recent UC Davis study shows, there is a lag between demographic shifts and voting patterns. Which means that the Coming White Minority will arrive far sooner than the Coming White Voter Minority.This week Davis released the first of a series of papers from the University's California Civic Engagement Project, which seeks to compile and analyze voting data. This paper focused on Asian and Latino voting stats in the Golden State from 2002 to 2010.

From 2000 to 2010, the state's Latino population grew from 32.4 percent to 37.6 percent, and the Asian population grew from 10.6 percent to 13.1 percent. Each group's voter registration rate has not kept pace, though. From the 2002 election to the 2010 election, Latino voting proportion went from 17.3 percent to 21.2 percent, and Asian voting proportion went from from 6.3 percent to 8.1 percent.

One reason for the lag is that many of those new residents are immigrants still awaiting citizenship. So the disparity between demographic shifts and voting patters is most acute in areas with the largest ethnic populations. For instance, the largest gap among Asians is found in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the gap between Asian population and voter registration proportion is 13.9 percent -- far higher than the state's 4.9 percent average. San Mateo and Alameda counties are also in double digits.

To be sure, focusing on the above statistics can be like focusing on Michael Phelps' silver medals. Voter registration expansion among Asians and Latinos from 2002 to 2010 far outpaced that of the general population. Over that stretch, California's overall voter registration rate rose by 13.7 percent. Asians and Latino rates each jumped by nearly 40 percent.

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Albert Samaha


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