An interesting survey from Gallup suggests that the Hispanic population in the U.S. is shrinking and becoming less religious (as measured by attendance of church services). Most Hispanics are Catholic, but this population is growing older and only 43 percent consider themselves more religious compared to their Protestant counterparts (60%). Since 2008, Hispanics became less likely to identify as Catholic, while Protestant identification remained roughly the same.

Given the interests of this blog (politics), I can’t help but ponder on the implications of this survey if this trend should continue.


Courting the Hispanic Vote

I have written about the recent GOP push on immigration reform and the political reasons behind that move (here), and the New York Times offers a look at which House Republicans might vote in favour a reform effort based on the size of the Hispanic electorate in each district.

However, pushing for reform and moving the debate in the Republicans favour is only half the story in a GOP appeal to Hispanic voters. The other is a consistent outreach effort like that of Pres Obama’s campaign, as well as those of Sens Reid and Bennett (Source).

The Texas Republican Party has begun that effort in the state (in reality an effort that has been revived from the previous efforts), as well as endorsing a guest worker program in the 2012 party platform (Source). The GOP in Texas has received 30-40 percent of the Hispanic vote for a number of years now, and the outreach efforts should keep that percentage fairly consistent and keep the GOP competitive in Texas despite changes in demographics.

What could hurt over time is the perception of the national party’s stance on immigration, etc.; however, it would be premature to suggest the GOP will become uncompetitive.


Hispanics’ Approval of Obama 70%, Up 12 Pts. Since August


Predicting Texas’ Future

Julián and Joaquín Castro were on Face the Nation discussing the future of Texas and how it will eventually turn blue (Source). With the Hispanic population growing, nearly every commentator and observer expects Texas to turn blue eventually, since Hispanics tend to vote Democratic.1

However, for this to happen Texas Democrats must increase Hispanic voter turnout, which has been poor, and the Castros, as well as other Democratic officials, concede that point. They’re ready to do the work; the issue is whether or not they will have the money. Texas Democrats contribute most of their money out of state, and the state party and other Democratic organizations have been weakened by that outflow (Sources: Amarillo Globe-News, KUT, Texas Tribune).

Related article: With Obama fundraising, Latinos demonstrate growing clout

1. I think this assumption is partially true, but expecting Hispanics to remain solidly Democratic as they become the majority population doesn’t match historical political trends; this assumes 2 things: 1) Republicans adjust their message on issues like immigration, and 2) they make a serious effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.


Adjusting for the Math (Political Demographics)

In the wake of the 2012 Presidential election, there is one issue that may define the Republican Party moving forward: immigration. Some GOP pols have grasped this issue and are putting forward plans for immigration reform.

What’s driving this reassessment? According to Charlie Cook, it has to do with the Republican share of the vote among whites and minorities. In his article in GovExec, he notes that the white share of the vote has declined 15 percent in the last 6 elections, even as the GOP share of the white vote grows; however, the GOP share of the minority vote has gotten dismal, while population growth is greatest among minority populations. The GOP is also losing among younger voters and women.

Enter Marco Rubio and some other GOP politicians. Sen Rubio has introduced a new immigration reform bill bolstered by a coalition of Republicans who support an effort based largely on the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform legislation (Source). Jeb Bush and others are working on Hispanic outreach (Source), and George P. Bush, who is looking towards running for statewide office in Texas, has declared himself a moderate on immigration.

Whichever side wins this debate - the hardliners or the moderates - will have defined the GOP in the elections to come, as well as their chances of remaining a viable contender.

Related posts:

Hispanic voters were boon to GOP

GOP’s Hispanic Outreach

The Republicans’ Hispanic problem

Texas and Hispanic Voting Patterns

Where the Trends Go…


Republicans & The South

Since Tuesday, I’ve seen several comments about Romney winning the South. If you’re interested in the history of the demographic evolution leading to the South becoming Republican, I would recommend the following:

Southern Politics in State & Nation

The Rise of Southern Republicans

The Myth of the Southern Strategy

The Immutability of Categories and the Reshaping of Southern Politics

Economic Development, Legal Desegregation, & Partisan Change in the Postwar South

By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, but there is a lot of good information in each that examines the statistics of demographic change in the South that lead to the region becoming Republican when it had so long been a Democratic stronghold.

The current demographic change in the U.S. is fascinating, and as we witness it, it helps to understand how demographic change affected the politics of different regions of the United States.


Where the Trends Go…

After discussing the changing demographics of the United States at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Ruy Teixeira and Sean Trende spoke with Governing magazine about the political outcomes of those demographic trends (Source).

In the short term, those demographics favour the Democratic Party, because of the growing minority vote, white college graduates, the millennial generation and the disappearing white working class. Longer term, there could be a shift back to the right if “the economic well-being of Hispanics were to improve in the coming years,” because exit poll data shows that higher income Hispanics are more likely to vote Republican than other higher income minority voters. This is something I have discussed before here, and it’s a reasonable outcome to suppose, because we’ve seen it before as white voters in the South began to switch to the Republican Party as wealth and incomes began to rise.

A recent book by Cal Jillson - Lone Star Tarnished - discusses the importance of demographics in the future of Texas as the Anglo population has grown slower than the national population since 1980 and the Hispanic population grows faster than any other group in the state (Source). As Prof. Jillson notes in his book, how this effects the state will depend on the development of the Hispanic population (which is tied to the state’s infrastructure, such as public education). The effects are not just economic and social, but political as well, as both parties will be effected by the growth and development of Texas’ Hispanic population.


Good article from the New York Times about how population shifts are effecting legislatures throughout the country. It’s a phenomena that has been occurring in Texas for quite some time and will keep occurring as this year’s redistricting maps have shown. Multi-member districts and other tactics helped preserve the strength of rural areas for many years, but those props were steadily removed over time (Source).


Book Review: Our Patchwork Nation

Our Patchwork Nation by Dante Chinni and James Gimpel is an attempt to quantify and analyse the differences in the communities which make p the United States of America. The central theme - that the United States cannot be defined through stereotypical dichotomies - is common sense if you have spent much time studying demographics or simply traveled around the United States. The first few chapters which define the 12 representative communities the authors have come up with are excellent chapters with a lot of useful information. The last 3 chapters dealing with the economy, politics and culture are not as informative, nor do I agree with some of their conclusions with regard to politics. The appendix is also worth reading as it contains a lot of useful information, including a list of the 3000 U.S. counties and where they fall within the 12 community types. Overall, it was an interesting book, and if you are one of those people who are beholden to the stereotypical dichotomy of America, it will be enlightening.