Hispanic Voter Profile

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1 Hispanic Voter Profile F E B R U A R Y As the second largest population group in the state, Hispanic Texans are an increasingly important segment of the state s population, emerging as a driving force to the state s diversity and growth, but more importantly in shaping the state s political landscape and outlook. For some time the state of Texas has held the distinction of being the second largest most populous state in the union. Population estimates produced by the U.S. Census over the past decade show the state is at no risk of losing that distinction. Despite the population losses or stagnation experienced by a number of large states, Texas population growth in the last decade will likely secure the state four additional seats in the House of Representatives, after reapportionment. Central to the continued demographic prominence of Texas are Hispanic Texans. As the second largest population group in the state, Hispanic Texans are an increasingly important segment of the state s population, emerging as a driving force in the state s diversity and growth, but more importantly in shaping the state s political landscape and outlook. Hispanics have been an integral part of Texas history for centuries. However, from a demographic and political perspective the impact of population growth and political participation beg a critical analysis of the numbers. Understanding Hispanics in Texas from this perspective is important in 2010; a year when both the decennial census and statewide gubernatorial and congressional elections will intersect and seriously impact the state.

2 Hispanics in Texas: 2008 Statewide Overview Total Population Citizen Adults Registered Voters Total 23,845,989 14,931,764 12,869,043 Latino 8,566,395 3,568,782 2,725,306 % Latino 36% 24% 21% Hispanics are currently the second largest population group in the state, comprising nearly four of every ten Texans (36%). The Hispanic population in the state accounted for nearly nine million of the state s 23.8 million inhabitants, according to US Census Bureau data from Non-Hispanic Whites remain the largest population group in Texas with a population of 11.3 million. Texas Hispanics have also been a driving force in the state s population gains over the past decade. Since the 2000 Census, the Texas population has grown by nearly three million. Hispanics have accounted for nearly two-thirds (63%) of this growth. As the 2010 Census gets underway these population gains may play a key role in increasing the state s political representation in Congress and access to federal funding.

3 Adult Share by Population Texas by Race A closer look at the Hispanic population from a political perspective reveals that like the national Hispanic population, youth and non-citizenship noticeably reduce the number of Hispanics eligible to participate in the state s political process. While the group accounts for 36% of the total population, they comprise 24% and 21% of citizen adults and registered voters respectively. Texas Latinos by Age In comparison to the state s other population groups, a greater share of the Hispanic population is under 18 years of age (35% under 18). Of the nearly nine million Hispanics a little more than three million are under 18 years; however, nearly a half million of these youth (433,660) will turn eighteen over the next year.

4 Despite this lag, Hispanic citizen adults total more than 3.5 million and registered voters nearly three million, still comprising the second largest electoral potential in Texas. The Hispanic electorate in Texas has grown significantly over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2004 the number of Hispanic registered voters who vote in even-year November elections increased by nearly 20%. More than a quarter of a million more voters turned out to the polls in 2004, compared to We witnessed a similar increase between 2004 and 2008 when the largest number of Hispanics ever, turned out to vote. The turnout represented an additional 271,000 Hispanic votes. More importantly, this figure accounted for 61% of the increase in total turnout for the state, in that period. Like the total Hispanic population in Texas, the Hispanic electorate is characterized by its youth. Among registered Hispanics, nearly half (47%) are under the age of 40. As this electorate matures, it is very likely that its presence at the polls will increase as well. That is not to suggest however, that registered Hispanics in Texas will stay home until then. Currently, 58% of the Hispanic electorate is characterized by voters with strong voting histories and a strong likely hood voting.

5 Top 10 Latino Registration Counties County Total Latino %Latino Bexar 869, ,142 44% Harris 1,846, ,043 19% El Paso 366, ,125 68% Hidalgo 279, ,311 77% Dallas 1,101, ,263 15% Cameron 165, ,155 77% Tarrant 902, ,610 11% Webb 101,141 90,197 89% Nueces 183,982 89,488 49% Travis 566,184 89,383 16% The concentration of the Hispanic electorate across the most populous Texas county s underscores the electorate s increasing impact and role in the state s electoral map. In Harris County, which boasts the largest number of registered voters in the state; Hispanics account for nearly 20% of registered voters. In Bexar County encompassing San Antonio, Latinos account for nearly half of all registered voters (44%). In some smaller Counties (Webb, Cameron, Hidalgo) Latinos account for more than three-quarters of the registered voter population.

6 The 2008 Presidential Election was historic for many reasons; in Texas the Hispanic vote established its own milestone and place in Texas electoral politics. According to official voter rolls, in November of 2008 nearly 1.4 million Hispanic registered voters cast ballots in the election. Hispanic votes comprised 17% of the total state vote. Despite the record setting turnout, however Hispanic turnout was noticeably less than the overall state turnout 50% and 60% respectively. An analysis of turnout at the County level, however, underscores the strategic importance of a geographically concentrated Hispanic vote. Amongst the top ten Counties with the largest number of total votes in November 2008, the Hispanic vote wielded varying levels of influence. In Harris County, with more than one million votes cast and comprising 15% of the total state vote, one out of every ten voters was Hispanic. More than 137,000 Hispanics cast ballots in Harris County. It is important to note less than twenty thousand votes separated President Obama and Senator McCain in the County. Bexar County had the largest number of Hispanic voters (207,349). Like Harris, Bexar the vote advantage for President Obama was relative slim (29,252).

7 A closer look at competitive Counties in 2008 reveals a tremendous potential for the Hispanic vote to impact electoral outcomes, whether through a swing in vote choice or a surge in turnout. In all but one of the competitive Counties, the total Hispanic vote is larger than the margin of victory. Moreover, four of the most competitive Counties in 2008 also boast the largest numbers of Hispanic registered voters in the state.

8 Conclusion The role of Hispanics and the Hispanic vote in Texas has become increasingly clear over the past decade. The growth of the Hispanic electorate in particular signals the growing need for political parties, candidates, and political pundits to consider the impact of this electorate on the shape of politics to come. While many variables can impact the outcome of an election the hard numbers in this analysis make it abundantly clear that in election cycles to come the Hispanic vote will play an increasingly decisive role in the electoral outcomes of gubernatorial and presidential candidates. Once an electorate with a regional influence, today s nearly three million Hispanic registered voters are a statewide factor. While the argument can still be made that a statewide candidate can still win Texas without the strong support of the Hispanic vote (e.g. McCain), there s no debating that it is certainly more expensive. The geographic concentration of the Hispanic vote, coupled with its growing size certainly makes for a more compact community of voters that can yield great impact. Should the trends in Hispanic political participation continue over the next decade, the political map of Texas will certainly have adjusting to do. About the Data Latino Research & Communications produced this analysis by compiling an array of data from various sources. Population statistics and demographics were compiled using 3-year aggregate data from the 2008 American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Voter registration and 2008 Turnout statistics were compiled using a collection of sources. Longitudinal analysis tracking the growth of the Hispanic electorate over time was compiled using data from the U.S. Census Bureau Reports on Voting and Registration in the November Elections of 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, Additional voter registration and voter history data sources include voter file data obtained from Catalist LLC and final official election results from the Texas Secretary of State.

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