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2009-13 ACS Update

December 11, 2014 Census Stuff, feature No Comments

The end of the year means new Census data being released. I’m saving most of my work until the Citizen Voting Age data is out, but here are the top lines for total population in Harris County, with previous ACS updates included to show the gradual change over time:

          Tot. Pop. '10 (%) | Tot. Pop. '11 (%) | Tot. Pop. '12 (%) | Tot. Pop. '13 (%) 
TOTAL     4,092,459         | 4,025,409         | 4,101,752         | 4,182,285
Anglo     1,349,646 (33.0%) | 1,353,868 (33.6%) | 1,354,869 (33.0%) | 1,361,568 (32.6%)
Hispanic  1,671,540 (40.8%) | 1,621,065 (40.3%) | 1,671,262 (40.7%) | 1,717,940 (41.1%)
Afr.-Am.    754,258 (18.4%) |   747,398 (18.6%) |   775,085 (18.9%) |   774,120 (18.5%)
Asian       249,853  (6.1%) |   246,924  (6.1%) |   257,467  (6.3%) |   262,251  (6.3%)
Other        67,162  (1.6%) |    56,154  (1.4%) |    43,069  (1.1%) |    66,406  (1.6%)

On a technical note, this is all based on the 5-yr dataset, which is the only dataset that provides CVAP details at the block group level. The one-year data at the county level, however, shows a more current snapshot of the county:

         5-yr ACS             1-yr ACS
        4,182,285            4,336,853   
Anglo   1,361,568 (32.6%)    1,376,670 (31.7%)
Hisp    1,717,940 (41.1%)    1,803,547 (41.6%)
AfrAm     774,120 (18.5%)      798,658 (18.4%)
Asian     262,251 ( 6.3%)      276,803 ( 6.4%)
Other      66,406 ( 1.6%)      81,175  ( 1.9%)

I asked some people smarter than me about how the five year set was calculated. I figured they may weight more recent years or do something fancy. Turns out, there’s no magic to it at all. Everything is weighted the same. What this means is that the “Pulaski Effect” leads to the 2012 and 2013 5-yr data sets closely tracking with the full 2010 Census data. That’s due to the aggregate of yearly data in, say, the 2008-2012 data set averaging somewhere toward the middle of that range – which is precisely 2010. I trust that everyone in the world was as curious as I was about that.

Again, CVAP data and mapping to happen as soon as the Census puts numbers online.

2008-12 Citizen Voting Age Population Update

December 24, 2013 Census Stuff No Comments

I’m gradually wading back into the annual update of Census numbers via the American Community Survey that just came out. For the sake of maintaining the bookmark I’m keeping on Harris County Population trends, here are the latest 5-year estimates covering 2008-2012 shown in contest of previous ACS releases:

         Tot. Pop. '10 (%)    Tot. Pop. '11 (%)    Tot. Pop. '12 (%) 
TOTAL      4,092,459           4,025,409            4,101,752
Anglo      1,349,646 (33.0%)   1,353,868 (33.6%)    1,354,869 (33.0%)
Hispanic   1,671,540 (40.8%)   1,621,065 (40.3%)    1,671,262 (40.7%)
Afr.-Am.     754,258 (18.4%)     747,398 (18.6%)      775,085 (18.9%)
Asian        249,853  (6.1%)     246,924  (6.1%)      257,467  (6.3%)
Other         67,162  (1.6%)      56,154  (1.4%)       43,069  (1.1%)

         18+ Pop. '10 (%)     18+ Pop. '11 (%)     18+ Pop. '12 (%) 
TOTAL       2,944,624          2,893,717            2,956,297
Anglo       1,085,630 (36.9%)  1,085,427 (37.5%)    1,090,375 (36.9%)
Hispanic    1,082,570 (36.7%)  1,049,076 (36.3%)    1,084,712 (36.7%)
Afr.-Am.      541,108 (18.4%)    540,203 (18.7%)      553,966 (18.7%)
Asian         194,956  (6.6%)    193,555  (6.7%)      200,401  (6.8%)
Other          40,360  (1.4%)     25,456  (0.9%)       26,843  (0.9%)

              CVAP-09 (%)         CVAP-10 (%)         CVAP-11 (%)         CVAP-12 (%) 
TOTAL       2,195,535           2,230,550           2,276,903           2,328,000
Anglo       1,090,624 (49.7%)   1,051,265 (47.1%)   1,048,230 (46.0%)   1,051,533 (45.2%)
Hispanic      494,695 (22.5%)     530,490 (23.8%)     560,416 (24.6%)     590,282 (25.4%)
Afr.-Am.      481,492 (21.9%)     506,150 (22.7%)     519,122 (22.8%)     531,518 (22.8%)
Asian         106,547  (4.9%)     120,660  (5.4%)     125,733  (5.5%)     130,291  (5.6%)
Other          22,177  (1.0%)      21,985  (1.0%)      23,402  (1.0%)      24,376  (1.0%)

A lot of the obvious trends are still in motion – growing Hispanic and declining Anglo population shares key among them. But here are a few other tidbits that jump out to me:

» If you look at the Under-18 data (or simply subtract VAP from Total Pop), I come up with a group that is majority Hispanic (51.2%), with Anglo (23.1%) and Afr-Am (19.3%) populations jostling for 2nd place. Even better, 91% of those Hispanics are citizen. This suggests a lot about what the peak potential is for each demographic. If we assume the numbers are static and evenly applied (neither of which I’d do in real life), that means the high-water mark for population generation among Hispanics is clocking in at about 46% CVAP (51.2% x 91%). Barring other changes, that means you would never see a CVAP Hispanic majority in Harris County.

» Fortunately, things do change. The 18+ group of Hispanics show signs of citizenship increase, going from 45.7% citizen in the 06-10 ACS, to 50.6% in the 06-11 release, to today’s 54.4% share today. That’s a far faster increase than you’d get from 17 year olds turning one year older. Simply put, this is among the most encouraging numbers I think you’ll find here. I’m not sure how sustainable that is or what factors drive that the most. But as long as Hispanic population is growing and the rate of citizenship is growing, that’s nothing but good.

» The Asian population doesn’t have much room for growth. At least not in Harris County. The Under-18 share of population is at 5.0% and the 18+ share is at 6.8%. That has all the earmarks of a ceiling that’s been hit. Don’t say you weren’t warned. There’s still ample room for growth in faster-growing suburbs and other areas with a low starting point for Asian population. But in Harris County … not likely. That makes Houston a very odd place to read about the growing Asian population meme, if nothing else.

Fair warning: there will be more maps and data with some excellent health insurance and educational data included in the release.

2007-11 CVAP Majority Map of Harris/Ft. Bend Counties

It turns out that, back in December, I posted the new numbers from the 2007-11 American Community Survey data that shows changes in the Citizen Voting Age Population in Harris County. What I never got around to was mapping out the results. So, now that we’re on the topic of redistricting again and the fact that there is new data out is a point of that conversation, here’s me making up for lost time.

full pageGoogle Earth file

To keep tabs on what share of the population lives in each section, here’s the math on that, below. The key finding of this is that, for the first time, the majority of Harris County residents reside in Census block groups that are majority-minority.

Harris County

Share within:
Anglo: 1,099,585 (48.3%)
Hispanic: 280,445 (12.3%)
Afram: 355,725 (15.6%)
Asian: 4,715 (0.2%)
Multi: 536,480 (23.6%)

Within Multicultural:
Anglo: 171,718 (32.0%)
Hispanic: 161,174 (30.0%)
Afram: 146,177 (27.2%)
Asian: 50,373 (9.4%)

Fort Bend County

Share within:
Anglo: 155,760 (46.1%)
Hispanic: 19,115 (5.7%)
Afram: 43,005 (12.7%)
Asian: 5,520 (1.6%)
Multi: 114,440 (33.9%)

Within Multicultural:
Anglo: 36,765 (32.1%)
Hispanic: 21,625 (18.9%)
Afram: 29,210 (25.5%)
Asian: 25,430 (22.2%)

There are some subtle differences from block to block, so feel free to download the Google Earth files (06-10 map here) and kill a weekend. Here’s a snippet of SW Houston, with Westheimer as the northernmost street. The color-coding is the same style usage I’ve been using on these things (red = Anglo CVAP majority; black = Afr-Am CVAP majority; brown = Hispanic CVAP majority; green = Asian CVAP majority; yellow = Multicultural – no demographic majority)

2007-11 Citizen Voting Age Population Update

December 31, 2012 Census Stuff, feature No Comments

I missed out on commenting on the Chronicle’s coverage of the recent update on Census data. This comes from the American Community Survey’s annual rolling update to their population counts.

I’ve only scratched the surface and updated some of my counts on how the total population translates down to citizen voting age population. Here are the topline numbers now. I owe it to myself to double-check these for accuracy, but there are some interesting notes for what turns up here. These are all taken from the 5-year ACS summary.

          Tot. Pop. '10 (%)   Tot. Pop. '11 (%)
TOTAL     4,092,459           4,025,409
Anglo     1,349,646 (33.0%)   1,353,868 (33.6%)
Hispanic  1,671,540 (40.8%)   1,621,065 (40.3%)
Afr.-Am.    754,258 (18.4%)     747,398 (18.6%)
Asian       249,853  (6.1%)     246,924  (6.1%)
Other        67,162  (1.6%)      56,154  (1.4%)
            18+ Pop. '10 (%)    18+ Pop. '11 (%)
TOTAL      2,944,624            2,893,717
Anglo      1,085,630 (36.9%)    1,085,427 (37.5%)
Hispanic   1,082,570 (36.7%)    1,049,076 (36.3%)
Afr.-Am.     541,108 (18.4%)      540,203 (18.7%)
Asian        194,956  (6.6%)      193,555  (6.7%)
Other         40,360  (1.4%)       25,456  (0.9%)
           CVAP-09 (%)        CVAP-10 (%)         CVAP-11  (%)
TOTAL     2,195,535          2,230,550          2,276,903
Anglo     1,090,624 (49.7%)  1,051,265 (47.1%)  1,048,230 (46.0%)
Hispanic    494,695 (22.5%)    530,490 (23.8%)    560,416 (24.6%)
Afr.-Am.    481,492 (21.9%)    506,150 (22.7%)    519,122 (22.8%)
Asian       106,547  (4.9%)    120,660  (5.4%)    125,733  (5.5%)
Other        22,177  (1.0%)     21,985  (1.0%)     23,402  (1.0%)

Did you notice that the raw number and percentage of total and 18+ Hispanic population decreased from the ’10 counts to the ’11 counts? Keep in mind that the ACS data isn’t the same as the Census. The methodology for counts isn’t the same. But it’s still interesting to see a drop in population share. Even more interesting is that they come as the Citizen Voting Age Population rose for Hispanics in both the overall estimate and the share of the county’s population.

At some point during football games tomorrow, I’ll get around to both mapping this out, double-checking my math and digging into more granular detail. My hunch for now is that much of the change seen here may be due to methodology changes as much as actual numerical growth patterns. I’ll update as time and findings permit. Here’s the full update I did from the 2010 results, if you’re up for some comparison.

Is New Math the Future of the Census?

August 6, 2012 Census Stuff No Comments

» Washington Post: Census chief Robert Groves: We’ve got to stop counting like this

Robert Groves, on his way out the door at the Census …

“Because of the constitution, the country will always have a census,” he said in an interview Friday at his office in the bureau’s Suitland headquarters, already stripped of his personal belongings. “But how we do the census and surveys will have to change.”

Cost is a big reason. Even though it came in $1.9 billion under budget, the last census cost $13 billion, about $42 a head. The pricetag has doubled every decade since 1970.

So there’s talk of relying more and more on private databases. At the basic level, there’s something to be said for that. But once you get beyond household utilities and tax records, I’m curious where that trend leads to.

Demographic Evolution, Continued

April 26, 2012 Census Stuff No Comments

» NY Times: In Years Since the Riots, a Changed Complexion in South Central
» Guernica: South L.A., Twenty Years Later

Two good reads from two different vantage points of demographics and the LA riots of 1992. Spare time comes at a bit more of a premium with only 5 weeks left until a Primary election is conducted. But these were worth a read, along with a re-read of an older link on Compton’s Latino voters as well as another link about some demographic evolution in NYC.

UPDATE: … and, of course, the 2010 demographics of Los Angeles and Orange Counties was mapped out here. That doesn’t give you a sense of the degree of change from 1992, but its still a helpful visual. Not sure what millenium I’ll get around to a 1980-to-2010 time series of those counties, but I don’t doubt that it would be interesting to see.

Demographic Food Fight

» NY Times: At the PTA, Clashes Over Cupcakes and Culture

An interesting snapshot here of demographic change at NYC’s PS 295 Parent-Teacher Association. In particular, it seems amazing how much of the issue can be distilled into a simple doubling of the price of a cupcake.

… [I]n a neighborhood whose median household income leaped to $60,184 in 2010 from $34,878 a decade before, the change generated unexpected ire, pitting cash-short parents against volunteer bakers, and dividing a flummoxed PTA executive board, where wealthier newcomers to the school serve alongside poorer immigrants who have called the area home for years.

“A lot of people felt like they really needed to be heard on this,” recalled Dan Janzen, a mild-mannered freelance copywriter with children in first and third grades who leads the school’s development committee and devised the price increase.

One mother expressed dismay at being blindsided, while others said they were worried about those at the school without a dollar to spare. Ultimately, the PTA meeting at which the issue came to a head was adjourned without a resolution.

Such fracases are increasingly common at schools like P.S. 295, where changing demographics can cause culture clashes. PTA leaders are often caught between trying to get as much as possible from parents of means without alienating lower-income families.

Sometimes, the battles are over who should lead the PTA itself: many of the gentrifiers bring professional skills and different ideas of how to get things done, while those who improved the school enough to attract them become guardians of its traditions.

It suddenly seems quaint to think of demographic culture clashes as instances of old-guard Anglos being displaced by minorities. But it also happens in areas where the reverse is happening. And it’s not just the rednecks, bubbas, and working class stiffs that act as the foil. The multi-degreed information worker serves as a useful substitute these days.

An Inconvenient Demography

» Chron: Rice sociologist is star of Houston survey film

Kuff catches one that I missed …

David Thompson and his colleagues at ttweak are best-known for their work on the quirky “Houston – It’s Worth It” campaign, paying homage to the yawning potholes, soul-sapping humidity and all the other things that help to define the sprawling city.

But they may have found the quintessential symbol of Houston in the star of their new film, “Interesting Times: Tracking Houston’s Transformations Through 30 Years of Surveys.”

From the looks of it, Discovery Green on April 27th is the next best opportunity to catch the flick.

DOJ Says No to Galveston County

» Chron: Galveston County redistricting rejected
» Galveston Daily News: DOJ tosses county’s redistricting maps

Nice to know that the DOJ isn’t totally taking a pass at county-level redistricting …

The justice department found fault with the county’s redistricting process. The process did not set out clear criteria to follow, redrew a commissioners precinct map that put the Bolivar Peninsula into the traditionally minority Precinct 3 and minority representation of voters took a step back under the county’s plan.

The justice department also found fault with the county’s desire to reduce the number of justice of the peace and constable precincts from eight to five.

In doing so, the justice department said, the county reduced the number of precincts where “minority voters possess the ability to elect candidates of choice” from three to just one.

The GDN story notes that two counties in Texas have had their commissioners court plans nixed by DOJ.

[Galveston County Judge] Henry too called the rejection, “an (President Barack) Obama administration’s continuing attack on Texas.”

The only other county in the state to have its redistricting maps rejected, Henry said, was Nueces County.

“What do Nueces County and Galveston County have in common?” he asked. “They both went from Democratic control to Republican control in the 2010 election.”

They were also both represented by former State Rep. Joe Nixon. So there ya go.

Kinder Institute on Houston’s Diversity

March 6, 2012 Census Stuff No Comments

» Chron: Houston region is now the most diverse in the U.S (Jeannie Kever)

More research on the local demographics …

The Houston region is now the most ethnically diverse large metropolitan area in the country, surpassing New York City.

Two suburbs – Missouri City and Pearland – have become even more diverse than the city of Houston. Other suburbs aren’t far behind.

These findings are from a report released Monday by Rice University researchers, based on an analysis of census data from 1990, 2000 and 2010.

“We are a little United Nations,” Pearland Mayor Tom Reid said. “You go to one of our neighborhoods, and there will be a person from Nigeria living next to somebody from India, living next to somebody from Mexico and somebody from Louisiana.”

The report also found that while residential segregation has dropped over the past 20 years, it remains highest within the city of Houston; most suburban neighborhoods are less racially segregated.

You can dig through the Kinder Institute report here or just take in the overview video it here:

I’m curious how some other locations track with this. I’d have to think that there would be some similarities in Los Angeles, at a minimum. Obviously, some of what leads to remnant segregation of Houstonians is that you have major parts of town fully developed and that have had multiple generations living in close proximity. So it seems logical that some areas of Third Ward and River Oaks would remain as they are. And as you build up undeveloped areas around those parts of town, the pool of buyers is generally going to be more diverse. That’s why you see pockets of Hispanic neighborhoods near Katy and newer Asian home-buyers filling in the area between Alief and Sugar Land, as well as between Alief and Willowbrook Mall. The fact that there was plenty of open space to develop creates this, in other words.

How this compares to Chicago, New York, or other major cities where I’m less sure that you’ll see something comparable would be something that warrants a bit more study. If only to satisfy my curiosity. That Harris County, as a whole, has gone through a rapid pace of diversification is something that obviously fits well within my wheelhouse. For a visual, there’s always this time-series of demographic maps that I tend to rely on for making the argument easily understandable.

And as an additional reminder, there’s this snapshot of SW Harris County done with my standard-issue demographic color-coding down to the Census block level:

This, in short, shows the pattern of multicultural blocks (yellow) outside the city, but the remnant homogeneous areas within the city (red/Anglo, brown/Hispanic, black/Afr-Am). As a point of emphasis, this demonstrates that it’s not just the larger aggregates of population that are settling in different ways. Block level aggregates are generally as small as 8-12 houses. Seeing a mix of population with no distinct majority living that closely together is something we’ll definitely be seeing more of in the future.

The San Antonio Do-Over

I can’t imagine that the news has escaped anyone who stumbled onto this post, but new maps are out from the San Antonio Court. It basically starts the process of nailing down the primary elections, though there’s still a ray of light that CD25 may be restored by the DC Court as an Austin-centric district for Lloyd Doggett whenever they issue their opinion.

The stuff that matters for Harris County is as follows:

- Three competitive district: HD137 (really more of just an open seat than it is competitive for the General), HD144, HD149. HD134 is just after each of those in terms of competitiveness. I know that there’s an enormous core of activists from that area who will likely itch to see the seat go Dem again. As drawn, I think it’s just going to be tantalizingly out-of-reach for the decade … barring any kind of scandal, of course.

- The real losses in the region seem to be as follows: HD26 retains the Charlie Howard water faucet and hence remains prohibitively Republican.

- On taking the good with the bad: So I’ve been re-drawn into House District 137, as they’ve added more of Gulfton. I’ll happily be voting for Gene Wu in the primary. But I’m also drawn into Congressional District 7. Ya know, because all them Gulfton Hispanics really have a lot in common with Hedwig Village and Jersey Village. Draw your own landscaping/nanny/housekeeper jokes. But I don’t see any of those Village folks dining at the China Star Buffet or any of the numerous and wonderful taquerias in my neighborhood. CD7 starts the decade as 58.7%-40.4% McCain-Obama. We’ll see if the numbers move any during the decade.

- Southeast Texas’ CD14 remains pretty much as-is/was. It hasn’t changed dramatically since the Lege passed their version of the district. Which means good things for Nick Lampson. The average Dem in both Federal and State races in 2008 got 47% in the district. And none of those candidates polled like Lampson has in Jefferson County. I traveled to the Texas City and Beaumont leg of the Campaign Kickoff on Monday and the crowds at both were impressive. Kuff riffs off of the Chronicle’s report on the Texas City event.

- Two long-distance district to note. First, the I-35 district (conveniently enumerated as CD35) that covers part of south San Antonio and SE Austin. I’m assuming Doggett runs there for the time being. We know that the Bexar County Tax-Assessor, Sylvia Romo, is running. And we have no word on Ciro Rodriguez, but I don’t see him challenging Doggett. I’ll refer you back to the post I did with the primary numbers when we had the Lege’s iteration of the district. Doggett may gain a bit by not having to run against a better-known candidate, even if Romo’s nothing to sneeze at. But given the fact that no Anglo candidate has ever beaten a Hispanic candidate in the prior version, I’d expect to see a similarly tough road for Doggett with this district as well.

- Secondly, CD33 in the DFW Metroplex. It’s definitely an ugly duck in terms of geography and demographics. But anything that undoes the single biggest injustice of the 2003 map is progress. No client work going on there, but I’m a fan of State Rep. Marc Veasey. It could get real interesting if a strong Hispanic candidate from Dallas gets in, though.

- For anything else concerning this phase of redistricting, you’re just not doing it right unless you read Michael Li’s blog. I’ve got all the raw data hacked for the Almanac and offer no guarantees for how soon before I have the pages updated for each.

The Redistricting Week Ahead

February 24, 2012 2011 Redistricting No Comments

» TX Redistricting: Q&A about the lay of the land

Michael Li points to an ETA on maps for being available by the end of next week. That fits a couple of needs that I think the San Antonio court may be looking to fulfill: a) having the mother of all detailed writeups for a redistricting map ever written to appease the Supreme Court, and b) giving some opportunity for the DC Court to rule on the Section 5 merits before completing work.

A couple of things known so far for the Houston area, some of which are good for the dayjob, are as follows:

1. It looks like there will be two different districts in SW Houston – essentially undoing the pairing that the Lege did with HD137 and HD149. Whether the new HD137 has part of Alief or Meyerland or some other add-on remains to be seen, though. Likewise, whether HD149 is a safe Dem seat or a swing district remains to be seen.

2. HD26 probably stands as a bellwether for how the judges see Fort Bend as a Section 2 issue. Locally, it’s one of the keys to watch for how successful the plaintiffs are. I’m not in the speculation business for this one … just hopeful that there’s a good district drawn that allows Asian voters to send candidates of their choice. The Lege certainly didn’t do that, though.

3. HD144 is another district to watch. I think this is more of a guarantee that there will be a district that doesn’t retrogress Hispanic population, but whether it’s created in the form of a safe or swing district is still up in the air. I can see this being the poster district for OHRVS, or I can see it as being a more solidified Hispanic district electing Dems by about 55-60% each year.

4. HD133/HD136 … based on the “settlement” proposals, my hunch is that Abbott & Co knew they were going to lose trying to keep these as separate districts. What the judges do with them, of course, doesn’t have to be the same. I’d think that the judges could point to the settlement options as validation for folding Woolley’s old seat into Murphy’s and Bohac’s current seat. But that doesn’t strike me as a necessarily “proper” basis to draw the map. I’m assuming that the court is going to have to justify anything edited from the original Lege map. So, unless there’s some justification in the slew of briefing memos they’ve sought out, I’m just not sure.

5. As far as Congressional Districts go, CD14 is the only non-incumbent district out there. I don’t believe that its been drawn significantly different in any map during the court process. Each one has Jefferson & Galveston counties whole, with slightly different versions of southern Brazoria County added on. Given the SCOTUS strictures to hew to the Lege map where possible, it won’t change.

Hopefully, we’ll see within a week’s time whether any of this happens.

Jillson on Demographics

» Texas Tribune: “Lone Star Tarnished” [Excerpt] (Cal Jillson)

Jillson’s conclusion …

Between 1900 and 2000, the Hispanic share of the Texas population increased from less than 5 percent to 32 percent and by 2040 is expected to be 53 percent. Bluntly, the question now is — because Hispanic income and educational attainment are lower than Anglos — does this mean that an increasingly Hispanic Texas must be poorer, less educated, and less productive? The answer, some assure, is no; especially if Hispanics, or Texas, or some combination of the two, act to improve Hispanic educational attainment. Then Hispanic productivity and income will grow, and Texas will continue to prosper. Others worry that demographic change is outrunning improvement in educational attainment. As Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said in early 2011, “A [Hispanic] population that isn’t making enough money to fuel our economy, or ends up being a burden on the state — that is not indicative of having a higher quality of life in the future.”

Texas has two choices: It can either try to change these numbers, or it can try to change the social and economic attributes of the coming Hispanic majority. Over the first century and more of the state’s history, Texans and their political leaders took the first path; they tried to shape the racial and ethnic makeup of the state. During the coming decades, Texans and their political leaders will either commit to the second path, changing Hispanic social and economic attributes, or pay an unsustainably heavy price.

If any of this sounds familiar, its probably because former Texas demographer Steve Murdock has been laying the groundwork on this for over a decade. Heather MacDonald at City Journal offers another state’s similarities. Her’s is a more right-leaning ideological spin on the subject, but the diagnostic part isn’t terribly dissimilar.

Murdock has obviously focused a great deal on economic issues, as Jillson does with the Trib excerpt. That’s fine and well – there’s certainly good reason to devote a lot of energy to that aspect alone. But I’m curious to see what, if any, treatment is given to the rise in non-citizen population over the past 15 years and what implication that has for matters economic and beyond.

MacDonald, for her part, notes ” … small, almost entirely Latino, cities in the Los Angeles basin have been politically passive toward local governance.” In checking the three she mentions: Bell, Maywood and La Puente, all but La Puente are over 80% CVAP Hispanic with a CVAP conversion rate of under 50%. La Puente has a higher CVAP conversion rate of 61%. I know that’s my dead horse to beat, but I’ve got to think that maybe, just maybe, the connection between low rates of citizenship are worth some more study. The “civic miscarriages” that MacDonald notes aren’t necessarily unique to heavily Hispanic towns and the shell towns that seem to find innovative ways to maximize corruption with very little population at all are points that somehow go missing from the grander narrative of un-assimilated brown folk. Regardless of whose prescriptive takes you or I may favor, the broader dividing point seems to be who has the burden of assimilation – be it economic, cultural, linguistically, or merely preference in sports teams.

Jillson at least hints that the subject matter might go beyond economic with him and I’m hoping his book does. Those in power don’t typically cede it easily. And we’re obviously already seeing some of the early warning signs of shifting political fortunes. For a more national take on that, Bill King serves up a good tangent on this subject. Jillson’s upcoming book is wildly over-priced for Kindle, but it’s still a discount from the hard copy. And I’ll still download a copy.

The Mother of All Redistricting Hearings (Part Two)

February 15, 2012 2011 Redistricting 6 Comments

Day two of the San Antonio court proceedings are underway. I’m merely watching twitter and checking email to see if anything interesting happens. One particularly interesting point made in the testimony (as tweeted by Nolan Hicks) …

MALDEF: 80 percent of Democratic primary voters in 2010 were Anglo.

You definitely get some interesting findings when you search in VAN for any kind of electorate and then see what the racial makeup of it is. And if more of that information was out in the public eye, it would definitely alter how many people understand their own districts. Just take it from this resident of Houston City Council District J … ya know, the “Hispanic Opportunity District” as described by everyone except the guy who drew it and me.

TANGENTIAL, DEMOGRAPHIC-RELATED ADD-ON: Reading Jason Stanford’s post over at HuffPo

Add to that the anomaly of Texas Hispanics’ miserable rates of voting participation, and you understand why Texas is a Republican state and not a swing state. Hispanics are 37 percent of the Texas population — and rising — but they’re only 15 percent of those who show up at the polls.

“There is a mystery to Texas,” Andre Pineda, the late Democratic pollster, told me last summer. “Why is it that Latinos turn out less there? I think the Democratic performance of Latinos is a big difference but not a defining difference because it’s when you throw in the turnout part that explains why Texas is red.” Translation: Not only are Texas Hispanics less likely to vote than California Hispanics, but they are more likely to vote Republican when they do.

Right about now, the sound of my head slamming against my desktop should make for a handy metronome to guitar practice tonight. How is that we’re having the umpteenth bazillion conversation about Hispanic population share anywhere in Texas and omitting the impact that citizenship has on that share. In fact, the state is roughly 25% Hispanic when you break it down to Citizen Voting Age Population.

The point about 15% of turnout being Hispanic, I’ve seen differing numbers with 15 being on the low end. But it’s certainly close enough to whine about. In general, there isn’t a “Hispanic problem” with regard to turnout, so much as there is an “economic problem” with regard to turnout. Ignoring the latter and assuming you can fix the former independent of that is a bit of a mistake. And believe me … it’s one we’ve tried many times in the past.

The bigger dispute I have with the rest of Jason’s take is over the fact that Hispanics are voting 1/3 Republican. I’ve seen the exit polls and I’ve seen the equally questionable studies that suggest its much lower. But if you take a hard look at precincts that are overwhelmingly (90% or more) Hispanic, you don’t see much evidence that 1/3 of the votes are going the other way. And when you factor in the Hispanic population surge in the suburbs, you’re left with a very tough rationale to explain why the Democratic vote in those areas rises as they get more diverse if those Hispanics are voting more Republican than they are back in the ‘hood.

I don’t quarrel with Jason’s conclusion. But the points used to illustrate the problem are flawed. I’m not convinced that getting Hispanic turnout up to 20% of the electorate is realistic. But doing the work to increase it would be a nice thing to see. Fortunately, you can see it in every competitive election. It was certainly done in 2010. So what else is needed?

TIME-KILLING SIDENOTE: Some quick and extremely dirty regression analysis from a data geek who rarely does regression analysis except to calculate Quarterback Ratings. Here’s what I get from looking at House Districts and using CVAP shares for Anglo, Afr-Am, Asian, and subbing out Hispanic with the SSRV share to calculate what share of the vote each demographic supported Susan Strawn for in 2008:

108% African-American
82% Hispanic
58% Asian
22% Anglo

Obviously, you can’t vote 108% for anyone. That bit of data does suggest that turnout was above and beyond for African-Americans, though. If I do some even dirtier extrapolation and back that number down to 97% among Afr-Am voters, the question is what to do with the remainder.

Among the problems with taking these numbers as gospel is that I’m still overstating Hispanic vote share among the actual electorate. Ideally, I’d have a fairly reliable count of the share for each demographic among actual voters. Even using the lower metric of SSRV instead of H-CVAP, I’m still overstating the share of Hispanic vote. If I just pick some percentage at random and say that the electorate share of Hispanics is 90% of SSRV, I feel obliged to define an “Other” category that covers both the unattributed share of voters lost from this calculation and the true “Other” for non-covered demographic groups in this simple breakdown. When I do that, I get the following:

108.5% Afr-Am
77.4% Hispanic
18.7% Anglo
49.6% Asian
78.1% Other

The instant you compress Afr-Am numbers down to 97% or whatever comparable share of support for Dem candidates you opt to select, that starts to raise the performance of other groups. Where anyone goes with that, be my guest to invent your own mathematical concoction. But what it doesn’t do is anything that would lower the vote performance among Hispanics. Which means they likely voted somewhere in the ballpark of 80% Dem in 2008.

Based on my understanding of urban areas, that 80% mark sounds about right. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on voting patterns in other areas. But look at HD31 – it’s the most Hispanic district in the state: 95%. SSRV is over 91%. I think a good ballpark assumption for any turnout differential might peg the electorate share at about 85%. Let’s call the 2008 average Dem performance at about 80%. If those Hispanics voted 1/3 Republican, that would mean that Dems would get to 55% on the back of Hispanic votes alone. If they got 100% of everyone else, they would get 70% of the vote. And yet, in the much more difficult year of 2010, Dems got an average of 75% of the vote in that district.

So, needless to say, I’m not buying the 1/3 GOP vote for Hispanics. The work above isn’t the best math in the world for getting to the core of this, but I think its good enough for outlining the ballpark. And to me, that ballpark looks more along the lines of 75-80% of Hispanic voters voting Dem.

Seriously, I don’t judge any of you for what you choose to do on a lunch break. So don’t judge me.

Competing Settlement Views: Harris County House Districts

February 14, 2012 2011 Redistricting 1 Comment

A somewhat complicated and messy Harris County view of the two settlement proposals for the House maps put forth by Abbott/MALDEF (Plan H303) and the remainder of the Perez Plaintiffs (Plan H307). The colored-in map is 303 and the outlined version is 306. Just so you can see what they’re arguing over. Coloring is merely for differentiation. I’ve tried to tell the lines in these maps to be white, but they keep telling me that they prefer to remain blue. So while the rest of you exchange Hallmark quotes with your significant others, I’ll be reviewing the Google Maps API. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

full pageGoogle Earth file

SETTLEMENT PROPOSAL #1: A static image of the way it looks on my side of things. Feel free to download the Google Earth file to make it happen on your own. For a better view of the static version, click it to big it …

The Mother of All Redistricting Hearings (Until the Next One)

February 14, 2012 2011 Redistricting 3 Comments

Today’s the big day for redistricting legal wrangling. Follow Michael Li’s live-tweeting for the play-by-play. I’m merely offering a few points of color commentary on points that I find interesting. So check back for the occasional update or two over the course of the day.

Fracking Asians

How southwest Houston gets carved up between HD137, HD149, and neighboring Fort Bend’s HD26 is obviously Item #1 on my agenda. One point in particular has crept up in Plan H307, which is a proposed settlement plan by the Perez plaintiffs who didn’t sell out sign on with AG Abbott’s draft.

Here are the precincts in the court’s original HD137 (Plan H302) that have 20% or more Asians among 1-of-4 General Election voters. Highlighted is the one precinct left out of HD137 under the new Plan H307.

Pct   Total  Asian  Asian-%   H307
508   2,041   616    30.2%    137
507   1,173   338    28.8%    137
311   1,874   483    25.8%    146
487   1,830   451    24.6%    137
503     778   161    20.7%    137
781   2,305   459    19.9%    137

Precinct 311 in HD146 was certainly a feature of the state’s original plan and one of the inhibitors of any final plan is that sticking closely to that plan is going to be viewed as a positive during this part of the process. But it’s bad enough that the state’s plan carves up the Asian community of SW Houston into four districts. Putting Precinct 311 back into HD137 (where it’s been since 2002) would at least restore the core of the most heavily Asian precincts within two districts on the southwest side.

Fair Math for Fair Park (And Beyond)

A tweet from Michael Li describing some of the arguments about the competing House District plans for Dallas County …

Anglos are 33% of Dallas Co. pop. Should control 4.46 of 14 seats. Instead control 8 because of minority fragmentation.

Welcome to the post-immigration-boom debate over representational fairness. Its not clear whether Michael is stating this based on the total population demographics or if he’s repeating a point raised in the court where he’s tweeting from. Why there’s no hashtag for such a thing is beyond me. But one of the fascinating things to see in action at either redistricting trials or post-rollout arguments among legislators/city council members/whatever … is the way total population, voting age population, and Citizen Voting Age population counts are used interchangeably depending on who it helps.

In this case, Dallas’ total population of Anglos is accurately stated as 33.1%. And for a county with 14 seats, that represents 4.6 seats. But as a matter of Citizen Voting Age Population, Dallas County is 49.8% Anglo. That represents 7.0 seats. I’ve previously pointed out this matter with regard to Harris County African-American State Rep districts. It’s also an issue that’s challenging, in particular, for Hispanic representation. And that’s a point I feel like I’ve lived out with regard to Hispanic districts for Houston city council.

The point isn’t necessarily that either should or should not be used as a concrete formula. The total population numbers do give a good guideline for what’s fair, while the CVAP numbers give a good guideline for what’s doable. An example from the Houston Community College round of redistricting demonstrates that three Hispanic candidates can get elected out of a situation where the CVAP calculation suggests two are viable. Sometimes, doing what’s fair requires a bit more work than would be deemed “easy”. Just look at Houston City Council … CVAP calculations would suggest that the city have 2.7 districts out of 11. We have two. As in two point zero. Harris County numbers are similar: 25% of the county’s CVAP is Hispanic. How many Hispanic districts were drawn by commissioner’s court? Zero. The side of all of this that I find most troubling is the use of the diffusion of Hispanic population as an excuse to avoid drawing what’s fair. Neither side of the spectrum is innocent of that.

The way the different numbers are used isn’t exactly one of the points about redistricting that I’d describe as being for mass consumption. Its as wonky as it gets for the subject. Still, you’d expect to see the use of them get better by the time the debate is moved to a courthouse where the witnesses are supposed to be “expert” and the lawyers are supposed to be … well heck, the lawyers are just going to be lawyers.

Almanac Update: Plan H303 Now Fully Loaded

Finally updated for the Almanac: every House district under Plan H303.

Now you can decipher for yourself how competitive HD34, HD41, or HD85 are for 2012.

… or whether any of it will matter by the time the legal process is over.

On Uncompartmentalized Coalitions

» FW Star-Telegram: Legal wrangling over Texas redistricting misses the big story (Michael Li)

I’m way overdue in commenting on this, but better late than never. Michael’s definitely noticing much of the same thing I am with regard to some of the new challenges that demographics pose for redistricting. In his case, naturally, its from a very Metroplex-centric perspective …

This year’s big theme is the remarkable growth of the state’s Hispanic population. After all, 65 percent of Texas’ population growth over the last decade was Hispanic. Despite that, there’s a compelling argument that Hispanic voting strength is actually diminished under the new voting maps approved by the Legislature.

As powerful as that story is, there’s another equally important, but less commented upon, story in this year’s redistricting fights: the emergence of diverse multi-ethnic districts in the state’s urban areas, where historically discriminated-against minority groups have managed to achieve gains by working together.

There’s no better example of this than state Senate District 10, which Wendy Davis won in 2008 based on the support of 99 percent of African-Americans and more than 80 percent of Hispanics, plus a smaller percentage of Anglos.

Over time, this may, in fact, be the bigger story of the last decade.

As urban Texas becomes more diverse — and compartmentalized neighborhoods that are the exclusive preserve of one ethnic group disappear — more and more districts like Davis’ will emerge naturally. The competitive state House seats that have arisen in recent years in places like Irving and Grand Prairie are a product of the same phenomena.

At the day job, there’s one part of any presentation on demographics that we show that’s pretty sure to get some attention. All it is is a flip-through of the demographic majority maps for total population in Harris County from 1980 through 2010. If you view the full page and just go page by page, you get an old-school flip-book demonstrating the impact of demographic change over that span of time. There aren’t many counties in the state where a similar effect can be seen. It’s just a matter of scale depending on the county.

My previous take on the whole tangent is here. The new CVAP numbers and mapped distribution for Harris County add a few new wrinkles to the understanding – some challenging, but most re-affirming.

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January 19, 2015

Belatedly, it’s worth noting that I’m back in Austin for the legislative session. Theoretically, that would mean a slowdown in blogging. But given the pace over the past several months, who knows. For the sake of making myself feel better, the work product over this span of time seems to be about 568 pages of […]

2009-13 ACS Update

December 11, 2014

The end of the year means new Census data being released. I’m saving most of my work until the Citizen Voting Age data is out, but here are the top lines for total population in Harris County, with previous ACS updates included to show the gradual change over time: Tot. Pop. ’10 (%) | Tot. […]

In Session

January 5, 2013

Today, I’m off to settle into a new workspace and a temporary residence in order to work with my new State Representative, Gene Wu, in Austin. Before anyone thinks to call, comment, or text about how exciting any of that is, you should be reminded that I was raised to loathe all things Austin. While […]


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