This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Emergence of Latino Political Influence in the US

An important takeaway from the recently released census numbers (the state data used for congressional apportionment) was that the growing Latino population in the US made a difference, and Latino organizations such LatinoDecisions are very aware of this, but with a realistic outlook on what it means:
The difficulty for Latinos in the reapportionment and representation process is this: states will gain legislative representation due to surges in Latino population, yet millions contributing to the net population growth are not able to vote due to age or citizenship status.  One-third of all Latino American citizens are too young to vote, and another 12.8 million Latinos are not eligible due to citizenship status.   Furthermore, recent years have seen politics fueled with anti-Latino rhetoric and policy agendas that are diametrically opposed to Latino preferences.  Thus, it is uncertain how much substantive or descriptive representation Latinos stand to gain from upcoming redistricting despite their obvious national presence.  It would be a horrible irony to see states adding congressional seats because of Latino growth, only to design districts and/or elect representatives with legislative agendas antagonistic to Latino interests in the state.  Once states have re-drawn their new districts, it will be worth revisiting how Latinos factored into deliberations and the prospects for increased representation.

Thus, the Latino population is now the largest minority group in the United States (15 percent of the population), exceeding the black population (12 percent), but only if we count everyone of all ages and don't account for citizenship status. On the other hand, if we look at the voting age citizen population, Latinos account for only 9 percent of the population, compared to 12 percent for blacks. So, we can see that Latinos have influenced the number of seats in Congress, but they are still in the category of "emerging" when it comes to political influence based on potential voting power. 

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