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What’s the Matter with Moore County, TX?

October 22, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

In doing a little research around the state, Moore County turns up among the Top 5 Texas counties in terms of Asian percentage of total population (6%). The 2000 Census showed Moore County with all of 173 Asians, representing 0.9% of the county’s population. A couple of things I’ve started doing more recently that adds some context to this is to rework some of the coding that I’d done for Census Tracts and blockgroups to also work for Census blocks. In the case of smaller counties such as Moore, this is particularly helpful since even blockgroups can obfuscate entire towns and include a lot of farm land or other unpopulated areas. What makes Moore County compelling to me is that it’s a good snapshot of how being “minority majority” doesn’t really mean as much as some of the prognosticators might have thought 10-20 years ago.

Moore County Demographics

         Total Pop.        Voting Age Pop     CVAP
          21,904         | 14,905         | 10,885
Anglo      8,370 (38.2%) |  6,615 (44.4%) |  6,530 (60.0%)
Hispanic  11,542 (52.7%) |  7,014 (47.0%) |  4,015 (36.9%)
Afr-Am       287 ( 1.3%) |    218 ( 1.5%) |    114 ( 1.0%)
Asian      1,323 ( 6.0%) |    783 ( 5.3%) |     54 ( 0.5%)

The county isn’t a perfect microcosm of the state by any means: the African-American population is too low and the Asian population is too high. The CVAP conversion rates for both Hispanic and Asian populations are also skewed. In the case of the Hispanic population, the CVAP conversion shows 43% of VAP Hispanics as non-citizen (slightly above the state average of 40.2%), while the Asian CVAP conversion shows that a mere 7% of VAP Asians are non-citizen (far worse than the state average).

Politically, the county is solid Republican, having voted nearly 80% for Rick Perry and John McCain. There is one Hispanic County Commissioner from Pct. 1, which is 35% SSVR and also 80% Perry/McCain. The Commissioner was elected out of a contested 2008 GOP primary against an Anglo challenger. That alone is enough to muddle much of the understanding we get from more urban and suburban counties.

Turnout differentials are a big part of the high GOP vote. Precinct 402 encompasses much of the town of Cactus. It is 88% Spanish Surname Voters Registered and has 593 registered voters out of a total population of over 3,400. Turnout was a mere 12% in 2010 and 35% in 2008. The precinct voted 66% for Bill White and 72% for Barack Obama. Precinct 202, on the other hand, is 14% SSVR and has 2,050 registered voters out of a total population of 2,746. Turnout was 49% in 2010 and 68% in 2008. The precinct voted 83% for Perry and 87% for McCain. Theoretically, if you’re looking for a location where Voter Registration and GOTV work can make a substantial impact on the electorate, Moore County would be a very cost-effective place to do a field test. There are less than 10,000 registered voters in the entire county.

Demographically, the town may have a bit more history worth diving into, as a 2007 Washington Post article refers to two time periods that suggest: a) that the county’s immigrant population was cut by an ICE raid at the local Swift meat packing plant that employs much of the town of Cactus, and b) the Vietnamese population that seems low in the 2000 Census counts may be an anomaly since they note an initial migration to the area in the 1970s. That the town’s largest landowner is Vietnamese is pretty suggestive of that earlier migration, also.

Indeed, the town of Cactus (home of the Swift plant) registers as 19% Asian and 74% Hispanic as of the 2010 Census. The demographic majority map covering just Cactus looks as follows. Again, standard color-coding applies, with brown being Hispanic majority, red being Anglo majority, yellow being no majority, and the more recent addition of green being Asian majority.

In terms of a Kansas-esque meaning of all of this, I’ve always hated the stereotypical logic that people vote against their economic self-interest and that something should be done about that. So, title of the post aside, I’m not sure there’s a grand political theory that illuminates the challenge of what it takes to see a location such as Moore County vote any other way. While there may certainly be room for Voter Registration and GOTV work to make up some of the difference, the fact that the county is relatively isolated probably makes such work a non-starter.

But looking at the factors that take a “minority majority” area from something that would conceivably offer hope to Democrats to a reality that votes 80% Republican is something worth closer attention. Demographics may ultimately point toward a destiny, but demographics alone aren’t destiny. I’ve probably beaten a dead horse over the fact that citizenship rates now are substantially lower than they have been in the past and that understanding should certainly add some skepticism that just because there’s a lot of Hispanics in a district, that doesn’t mean it’s a “Hispanic district”.

Electorates are now further removed from the overall population in terms of their demographic and voting-preference makeup. And even those electorates can now be expected to behave quite differently depending on when the election is. The differences seen in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 should serve as examples of this. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing – or even whether it’s something worth fixing or appreciating – I leave to you to decide. But, if nothing else, it may be time to replace the anticipation of “minority majority” status with something else.

投票在这里 (Vote Here)

October 12, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

Harris County looks like it’s set for adding Chinese to the ballot now. Waiting to hear back on whether this means it’ll need to be in place for November or if it waits until the 2012 cycle.

Leaving Alabama

» NY Times: After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town
» Wash. Post: A tough new Alabama law targets illegal immigrants and sends families fleeing

Two similar stories on the heels of the Alabama immigration law being upheld, both worth a read. For those in need of some quick stats to go along with the read, The Post primarily covers Foley (located between Mobile & Pensacola on the gulf) while the NYT sticks to Albertville (inland, between Gadsden and Huntsville). Foley is about 9% Hispanic (out of a population >14k) while Albertville is 28% Hispanic (out of >21k total).

In both cases, the situation strikes me as somewhat parallel to a lot of other small town explosions in Hispanic population. In the early phase of this migration pattern, this type of growth used to be something of a “Des Moines phenomenon” … places (like Des Moines) that weren’t accustomed to seeing a natural pocket of Hispanic population in decades past suddenly getting an influx of them. Now the phenomenon is geographically broader than a few isolated examples. Closer to home in Texas, Smith & Gregg Counties (Tyler & Longview) are about 17-18% Hispanic. East Texas counties such as Shelby (16%) and Rusk (14%), just to throw two more random examples into the mix are seeing the same thing. And when you compare the CVAP population to the ACS’s VAP, the ratios are particularly low. So it’s not for nothing that the local rednecks – and I have kinfolk from Shelby County, so I can call them that – in various state legislatures are raising their alarm over illegal immigration in recent years.

I, or anyone else in the world, can argue to the high heavens about whether their animus ought to be with the employers in their area who are luring the workers in and hiring undocumented workers. Whether an old and aging small town wishes to have a thriving business or just another abandoned building or nursing home may be more fodder for absolutely wonderful conversation. But the folks in areas such as these are definitely seeing something new for the very first time and laws such as the ones in Alabama and Arizona are the end result of it.

From at least one angle of the bigger picture of all of this, I’m curious to see what the impact of laws such as this have on re-shuffling Hispanic population on a broader scale. If nothing else, it’s a point to chalk up as another reason to think that the type of demographic change we saw in the last decade won’t necessarily be matched in the current decade. Birth and death rates still nudge some gravity toward increased Hispanic population shares. But the impact of laws such as Alabama’s and the overall slowdown in international migration don’t seem ready to amplify that shift as it did during the last decade.

One final parallel that might be worth making from the Post’s version of the tale:

William Lawrence, the principal of Foley Elementary School, said frightened immigrant families withdrew 25 students last week, even though all the children were U.S. citizens. He said the Hispanic community was swept by rumors that parents would be arrested when they came to collect their children. Many families asked teachers and others to act as their children’s emergency drivers or legal guardians.

“We are doing all we can to reassure parents that their kids are safe, and things have calmed down some, but this was extremely wrong,” Lawrence said. “I hope our lawmakers did not do it deliberately. They won, because now people are leaving. But there is no reason to create such terrible fear of parents being separated from their children.”

Compare that to Ben Smith’s observation from a recent panel discussion:

I participated in a panel on the topic of the Hispanic vote at Advertising Week in New York yesterday, and was struck by two items in the remarks by the pollsters and Latino politics on the panel: That immigration isn’t the top issue for Hispanic voters (“I don’t care about immigration,” Univision executive Chiqui Cartagena announced), and that Hispanic voters are intensely sensitive to rhetoric — more, in the view of some, than policy — that comes off as bigoted or as playing to bigots.

As a general rule, it strikes me as unwise to reduce the matter to thinking that Hispanics tilt in favor of (or at least more neutrally toward) illegal immigration. My own experience instructs me that views toward immigration are far more complex among the audience sample that’s in my network. But that complexity cuts two ways, as Smith’s point touches on. In other words, just because there may not be a sizable share of Hispanic voters who sympathize with illegal immigrants, they’re still likely to know when a bigot is just being a bigot and not respond sympathetically to that either.

So it’s still a game of chicken that the GOP seems to want to play with Hispanic voters. It may not be quite as cut-and-dried as your garden variety hot button issue. But it’s still a game of chicken. After all, it’s not the undocumented population that can’t vote that they’re scaring off … it’s the legal, been here for a long time, and voting share of the Hispanic population. And that share is still going to grow over time.

The Demographics of Cook County (IL)

September 30, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

I had intended to merely post this for the sake of artistry if nothing else, but a little bit of number-crunching proves that Cook County Illinois (ie – Chicago, home of Jake & Elwood, da Bears, etc) is another case in point where a majority-minority area becomes majority-Anglo when you look at it in terms of Citizen Voting Age Population and the likely electorate. And yes, I’m well aware that “Anglo” is wildly mislabeled when talking about the ethnic pool that is Chicago. Anyways, the CVAP-majority map is below. Click it to big it, if you’re that curious …

Legend: red = Anglo/caucasian majority; brown = Hispanic majority; black = African-American majority; green = Asian majority; yellow = no majority

The math is as follows:

            COOK COUNTY              VAP               CVAP
Total ..... 5,194,675           3,962,395           3,415,340
Anglo ..... 2,278,358 (43.9%)   1,906,502 (48.1%)   1,840,731 (53.9%)
Hispanic .. 1,244,762 (24.0%)     822,242 (20.8%)     456,386 (13.4%)
Afr-Am .... 1,265,778 (24.4%)     923,363 (23.3%)     938,180 (27.5%)
Asian .....   318,869 ( 6.1%)     256,892 ( 6.5%)     151,352 ( 4.4%)

Interestingly, the African-American population grows in overall raw numbers from the Census Bureau’s VAP counts to the ACS’s CVAP counts.

Given the Dem-friendly tilt to the county, there’s obviously a substantial share of Anglo Dems presnet in the county. I think those of us who have read up on the old-school Daley machine can figure out a few differences here as opposed to the Anglo Dem areas in, say, Houston, Denver, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, which have less ethnic diversity among the caucasian population. I haven’t gotten around to mapping any election results to compare and contrast, but my hunch is that the Jewish, GLBT & multi-degreed folk share of that segment might be a minority within the full “Anglo Dem” reach of the county.

In poking around through some election results, I did find it interesting that Dick Durbin outpolled Barack Obama in 2008 in the county (72.6% to 66.6%). Just glancing around for the most solidly-white areas of the county that I could find, Orland Park went 48.7% for Obama (with McCain winning the township) and 61.2% for Durbin. That was the most extreme case of Obama losing and Durbin winning that I could find. If I get my hands on some precinct results, there’s no telling what I’ll end up doing with Cook and a few surrounding counties.

For now, take it for whatever it’s worth to you. What I find striking is that the pattern of growth in what I label as “multicultural” areas, while substantial, doesn’t seem as striking in several other locations with sizable population shares among three or more demographic groups. Maybe that’s a homer bias on my part, maybe it’s because I haven’t gone through the trouble of mapping out the previous Census results to track the growth. But at first glance, it looks as if Houston, Los Angeles and New York represent the high end of the population share living in such a region. If I had an army of demographers, database geeks, and researchers, I’d probably do something like calculate out the Top 20 or so counties to see how each looks. I’m not quite putting that on my weekend to-do list, but it’s obviously something that’s going to gnaw away at me for a while until it does make the list.

ADD-ON: One of the more interesting redistricting doodles of the past couple of decades has been Illinois’ 4th Congressional District. It’s a challenge aimed at finding a way to draw a viable Hispanic district with the Hispanic population split geographically (not entirely dissimilar to how Houston’s 18th and 29th have to find some tight points of connection). So, for the sake of understanding, here’s why the new CD4 is drawn the way it is:

A Preview of Demographics in LA/Orange County

September 26, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

So, I’m slowly getting around to my list of other areas to map out and see what the demographics look like outside of Texas in some areas of interest. And while I’m neither as far along in looking around Denver’s Anglo Dem situation or in mapping the view of Los Angeles & Orange County that you see below. But what I do have below is the CVAP majority map by block group for both counties. I wanted to post this view of the two California counties since it’s an interesting view due to the multiple pockets of Hispanic and Asian populations in the region. But feel free to click and view it for your own interest and see what gets piqued for you …

In mapping out LA/Orange, I decided it was time to update the color-coding with a majority-Asian coding (green). So I’ll probably go back and map out Texas’ Fort Bend County to highlight the few areas where there are majorities there as well. In Harris County, there aren’t any majorities, but there are some solid mid-forties in a handful of block groups.

And after seeing how this view of LA/Orange looked in terms of CVAP, I’ll obviously get around to looking at it in Total Pop, Voting Age Pop, and also a Total Pop timeline view from 1980 through 2010. It should be pretty interesting to see how that area has changed over time, for much the same reason that the Houston changes have been interesting to see mapped out.

The Baby Bubble

September 24, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Foreign Policy: The World Will Be More Crowded — With Old People

Another driver of the slowdown in immigration …

Which countries will be aging most rapidly in 2025? They won’t be in Europe, where birth rates fell comparatively gradually and now show some signs of ticking up. Instead, they’ll be places like Iran and Mexico, which experienced youth bulges that were followed quickly by a collapse in birth rates. In just 35 years, both Iran and Mexico will have a larger percentage of their populations over 60 than France does today. Other places with birth rates now below replacement levels include not just old Europe but also developing countries such as Brazil, Chile, China, Lebanon, Tunisia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Because of the phenomenon of hyper-aging in the developing world, another great variable is already changing as well: migration. In Mexico, for example, the population of children age 4 and under was 434,000 less in 2010 than it was in 1996. The result? The demographic momentum that fueled huge flows of Mexican migration to the United States has waned, and will wane much more in the future. Already, the net flow of illegal Mexican immigration northward has slowed to a trickle. With fewer children to support and not yet burdened by a huge surge of elders, the Mexican economy is doing much better than in the past, giving people less reason to leave. By 2025, young people on both sides of the border may struggle to understand why their parents’ generation built this huge fence.

Harris County will be a particularly interesting datapoint to watch in the years ahead. As of the latest Census, the county is 40.8% Hispanic compared to 2000′s 32.9% share. Whether the overall slowdown in immigration or Harris County’s status as an immigration entry point drives Hispanic population growth up or down over the next decade remains to be seen. There’s still the bubble represented by the already-present differences in age groups within Harris County. The under-18 population is already 51% Hispanic. That’s not enough to drive the total Hispanic population share to majority status within a decade and it remains to be seen where that generation settles given that the previous generation has already started the process of diffusion throughout the county. If the county is to reach majority-Hispanic status in the next decade, it will because the older, more Anglo population continues to migrate elsewhere and to die off while the county’s status as an entry point for immigration continues while the sheer numbers of those immigrating slow down.

Harris County’s 2010 ACS Population Count

September 23, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

The city’s population estimate from the ACS data stands at 2,107,208.

Harris County counts are as follows. For the record, I had to calculate out the CVAP by manually backing out the “Not a Citizen” counts with a good old-fashioned calculator as I was drafting this post. I’ll be double-checking my math after breakfast and with a spreadsheet first thing when I get to the office.

American Community Survey 2010 1-yr Population Counts

              HARRIS COUNTY            VAP                 CVAP
Total  ....     4,110,771          2,959,708          2,315,362
Anglo .....    1,347,895 (32.8%)  1,085,631 (36.7%)  1,045,360 (45.1%)
Hispanic ..    1,685,575 (41.0%)  1,092,302 (36.9%)    591,194 (25.5%)
Afr-Am ....      763,140 (18.6%)    555,276 (18.8%)    532,585 (23.0%)
Asian .....      254,078 ( 6.2%)    199,263 ( 6.7%)    123,235 ( 5.3%)

The 25.5% CVAP mark for Hispanic population should jump out as the DOJ considers the Harris County Commissioners map that somehow doesn’t find a way to build a CVAP majority Hispanic district out of the four commissioner precincts. The overall counts place the Harris County Hispanic CVAP Conversion rate at 54%. That’s substantially higher than the 2005-09 count of 45.7%.

You can compare these results to the 2010 Census results here. It’s worth noting that the CVAP counts (which are derived from the 2005-09 ACS data) are a few points higher than the previous counts. In large part, this seems due to the fact that the 1-yr ACS counts for 2010 don’t incorporate the older data points, which the 2005-09 ACS data does. Comparisons to the Census data aren’t perfect, but close enough. In other words, I wouldn’t get excited about a lot of 1-2 point moves.

That obviously makes this a bit of a bananas-to-plantains comparison, but it’s helpful to understand how the 1-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr counts move with each update since each has their own level of specificity and currency to factor in. The 1-yr, for instance, doesn’t offer enough granularity for me to map out things by Census Tract or Block Group. But it’s recent and the samples are sufficient enough for seeing how mid- to large cities look. The longer period data sets allow for more specificity down to a Census Tract or Block Group level. When the 5-yr datasets are released in December, I think we all know how I’ll be spending the holidays.

I’ll update with City of Houston, Baytown, Fort Bend County and Sugar Land numbers later today. And if time permits, I’ll see if I can do some comparisons to the 1-yr 2009 ACS data to see how these numbers have changed against that.

UPDATE: Slight correction on the Harris County numbers, as well as the fuller Houston-area cities included. I’m a bit surprised at some of the gaps in ACS data. For instance, Baytown Hispanics are measured, but not Baytown Anglos. Just as well, here’s the data. It’s been officially crunched with both spreadsheet and caffeine.

Harris County

           Total Pop             VAP              CVAP   
Total    4,110,771          2,959,708          2,315,362   
Anglo    1,347,895 (32.8%)  1,085,631 (36.7%)  1,045,360 (45.1%)
Hispanic 1,685,575 (41.0%)  1,092,302 (36.9%)    591,194 (25.5%)
Afr-Am     777,377 (18.9%)    555,276 (18.8%)    532,587 (23.0%)
Asian      256,862 ( 6.2%)    199,263 ( 6.7%)    123,235 ( 5.3%)

Ft. Bend County

           Total Pop             VAP                CVAP
Total      590,350            415,273            354,528   
Anglo      212,358 (36.0%)    159,649 (38.4%)    158,371 (44.7%)
Hispanic   140,885 (23.9%)     90,585 (21.8%)     60,356 (17.0%)
Afr-Am     129,339 (21.9%)     88,040 (21.2%)     84,611 (23.9%)
Asian      101,213 (17.1%)     72,582 (17.5%)     51,311 (14.5%)


           Total Pop            VAP                CVAP   
Total    2,107,208          1,564,915          1,160,654   
Anglo      541,525 (25.7%)    461,096 (29.5%)    436,501 (37.6%)
Hispanic   917,993 (43.6%)    617,601 (39.5%)    304,800 (26.3%)
Afr-Am     500,359 (23.7%)    369,857 (23.6%)    353,634 (30.5%)
Asian      131,075 ( 6.2%)    104,880 ( 6.7%)     56,799 ( 4.9%)

Sugar Land

           Total Pop            VAP                CVAP   
Total       79,472             60,755             52,217   
Anglo       35,235 (44.3%)     28,935 (47.6%)     27,657 (53.0%)
Hispanic     ***                ***                ***   
Afr-Am       ***                ***                ***   
Asian       28,597 (36.0%)     21,242 (35.0%)     15,743 (30.1%)


           Total Pop            VAP                CVAP   
Total      149,722            103,519             77,459   
Anglo       46,557 (31.1%)     39,329 (38.0%)     38,465 (49.7%)
Hispanic    93,763 (62.6%)     58,159 (56.2%)     33,684 (43.5%)
Afr-Am       ***                ***                ***   
Asian        3,539 ( 2.4%)      2,712 ( 2.6%)      2,130 ( 2.7%)


           Total Pop            VAP                CVAP   
Total       72,418             53,056             45,878   
Anglo        ***                ***                ***   
Hispanic    31,381 (43.3%)     21,000 (39.6%)     14,211 (31.0%)
Afr-Am       ***                ***                ***   
Asian        ***                ***                ***   

Honkification Elsewhere

September 21, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» LA Times: Upscale culture and gang violence share a small space

Not just the Heights

The historically working-class Latino neighborhood, which covers just one square mile, has seen a burst of restaurants, galleries, bars and boutiques open in the last few years. In addition to the low-cost eateries from Latin America and South Asia, Mission denizens can find prosciutto ice cream, broccoli raab pizza, or lavender creme brulee served from a cart that roams the district (with a Twitter following, of course).

Young techies, many ferried by corporate buses to and from their jobs at Google and Facebook, have flooded into the Mission’s Victorian flats and newer lofts — joining the artists and activists who arrived in the late-1980s and first gave the neighborhood its cool cachet.

The Mission’s Latino population has fallen by more than 20% over the last decade as families were priced out of the housing market. What remains are stark contrasts. On a recent evening, tattooed youth with yoga mats pushed past lines of workers wiring their day’s wages to relatives in Latin America.

What’s the allure?

It is that diversity that draws most newcomers, Martin said, although he concedes that for plenty of others it’s about “‘I like cheap taquerias when I’m drunk at 2:30 a.m.’”

I don’t drink enough to get hammered at 2:30 in the morning (or in the afternoon for that matter). But the appeal of cheap taquerias here in Houston cannot be minimized. And the entertainment value of the 2:30am drunks isn’t half bad, either.

Seriously, though … is there anyone that’s written a half-way decently researched book on the phenomenon that isn’t prone to the polemics of, say, a Richard Florida? Between the tech boom in the San Francisco area and the preservation ordinances that drive a similar process in Houston, I’d be curious to see what else drives this kind of demographic change. And it’s not so much the “reverse white flight” toward downtown areas that I care about. It’s the outlying areas that defy the broader demographic trend you see elsewhere that I’m looking for. And in no small part, it’s due to the fact that it flies in the face of Bill Bishop’s “Big Sort” theory.

Denver’s Demography and the Case of the Anglo Dems

September 19, 2011 Census Stuff, feature 2 Comments

In my earliest iteration of local political map-making (2007 to be precise), I came up with 5-group definition of Harris County political groups. These are voter targets that everyone tends to acknowledge and agree on, but I sought to define the geographic boundaries of where the core of these voters were.

Traditional African-American neighborhoods are obviously the most solid pool of Democratic leaning voters. Traditional Hispanic neighborhood are another that lean toward Democratic candidates. And among Anglos, there tends to be a small carve-out of what I classify as “Anglo Dem”, leaving the rest as “Anglo GOP”. The reason I felt compelled to spend some time on the project in 2007, however, was because our shop’s experience in southwest Houston led us to believe that the “no majority” or “multicultural” areas in the county were growing in importance. So I went through and defined a “Multicultural” core where there was generally no majority present and the votes tended to reflect that.

Now, I hadn’t worked with any extensive GIS software prior to then and the Census data was barely relevant late in the decade. So the whole exercise took a bit of creativity, some heavy abuse of Photoshop to create the rough drafts of maps, and some generosity of a local engineering firm’s GIS resources to help us add some more layers to the research. But, all in all, that exercise was the launch pad of a great deal of what you see in the way of the more recent cartography. The results, based on the 2006 election cycle and a ton of guesstimating based on HCAD queries looked like this …

Briefly, the biggest things to jump out of this were the following:

- The notion that “Multicultural” parts of the county played a big role was certainly substantiated by seeing 20% of the vote come from areas where nobody held a majority.

- The share of vote to come out of Traditional Afr-Am and Traditional Hispanic areas was not sufficient enough to warrant the typical approach of doing field work in those areas and considering the job “done” for Hispanic or Afr-Am targeting and outreach.

- A closer look at the Hispanic numbers indicated that there is a similar amount of Hispanic vote to be had in the Traditional Hispanic precincts was there was in either the Multicultural OR the Anglo GOP area. While the first comparison might not have served as much of a surprise, the latter one was very attention-getting. It was also something that I think was borne out in some of the results for Adrian Garcia in 2008.

- In looking at historical election returns for each of these areas, the Anglo Dem cluster proved rather fickle, actually voting GOP in the most competitive contest we looked at in that year. The Multicultural cluster also voted slightly in favor of the GOP that year, though part of that was because what was “multicultural” or “transitional” in 2006/07 wasn’t necessarily the case in 1994. But for a “base” area such as the Anglo Dems, the swing was more noticeable.

As a first order of business, I probably should go through and see how this same Anglo Dem cluster performed in 2010 with regard to Bill White and any other downballot races. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a similar swing to the GOP below Bill White’s showing. While I stand by my working theory that 2010 was a turnout phenomenon rather than a “mind-changing” one, I think it stands to reason that the canary in the proverbial coal mine is to see a re-coloration of the map in Anglo Dem areas.

While the rise of multicultural areas in Harris/Ft Bend counties has been through the roof (feel free to compare the 1980-2010 maps), the definition of Anglo Dem clusters is worth exploring in a bit more detail. This is basically another thread I’m pulling from the sweater of Friday’s Lanier Public Policy Conference. Ron Brownstein’s point was that successful Democratic constituencies of the future are going to have to be created from minority voters and those Anglos comfortable with diversity. Unfortunately, Houston’s Anglo Dem area seems relatively small to draw too many conclusions with.

This is what sent me to Denver. While there are some notable differences between the two states that aren’t good comparisons – namely Colorado’s lack of racial conflict compared to southern states – the pool is big enough in Denver to start milling about and exploring how big the difference is once you account for some of the more traditional reasons that influence Democratic support among Anglo voters.

For starters, there’s the Jewish community and the GLBT community that tend to be supportive. In most major urban areas, there should be a common parallel even if it’s hard to derive good, solid numbers for each. A bit easier to get good data on is the presence of multi-degreed individuals. College towns have young students who may vote more liberally than the adults in town (ie – Austin). More the case outside of Houston, there are also the occasional union hotbeds. I’m not sure how much of a presence unions have in the Denver area, but I’m starting off with the assumption that it’s on the low side compared to midwestern metros. Beyond those factors, it starts to get fairly thin. So the hope is that by spending some time in Denver, there’s enough of a pool of Anglo Dems to do some more digging.

First up, the raw demographics of the area. I look at the Denver area two ways: Denver county (it’s actually a city-county, so I’m just going to call it Denver and leave it at that) and the four-county area that includes the three other counties that surround Denver. In each case, they are all majority-Anglo, with Denver at a slim Anglo majority on it’s own. The math for the aggregate and just Denver is as follows:

The Denver Four   
           TOTAL         ANGLO            HISPANIC         AFR-AM        ASIAN
Total  .. 2,148,307  1,336,889 (62.2%) 540,810 (25.2%) 131,253 ( 6.1%) 77,633 (3.6%)
18+  .... 1,627,004  1,091,306 (67.1%) 344,649 (21.2%)  95,461 ( 5.9%) 59,158 (3.6%)
CVAP .... 1,392,465  1,045,065 (75.1%) 204,347 (14.7%)  79,995 ( 5.7%) 34,983 (2.5%)

Denver County
           TOTAL         ANGLO            HISPANIC         AFR-AM        ASIAN
Total ..   600,158    313,012 (52.2%) 190,965 (31.8%)  58,388 ( 9.7%) 19,925 (3.3%)
18+ ....   471,392    274,874 (58.3%) 125,111 (26.5%)  43,709 ( 9.3%) 15,941 (3.4%)
CVAP ...   384,850    250,265 (65.0%)  78,092 (20.3%)  38,843 (10.1%)  9,096 (2.4%)

The pattern of Hispanic population shares going south as you go from Total Population to CVAP is certainly familiar. And, to me, it also raises doubt on whether there’s really a “sleeping giant” there to be awoken.

What’s interesting is that in each individual county, Michael Bennett carried the total vote for the 2010 US Senate contest and John Hickenlooper did the same in the 2010 Governor’s race. Each won statewide as well. It was as if 2010 just didn’t happen in those contests, although the GOP did perform better for downballot state contests. Hickenlooper’s contest was an oddity in that Tom Tancredo ran as a third-party candidate, which had the effect of taking votes away from the GOP nominee and making the race more hyperpartisan. The impact in terms of which precincts went blue vs red (or whatever color for a third party) did not change terribly much on the scale that I’m used to working with. That’s not to say that the percentages in each precinct were close to identical. But merely to point out that deep red areas didn’t suddenly swing toward Hickenlooper. The map basically stayed the same. Going back to my point about wanting to see some amount of re-coloration before concluding that minds are changing on the ground, it just didn’t look like it was on display here.

One of the post-election comments heard about both Colorado and Nevada was that it was Hispanic voters that “saved” Bennett and Harry Reid. In some preliminary views of the returns, what struck me was that while it was impressive that the share of vote among Hispanics did not tail off like a lot of other midterms do, the showing in Anglo-majority areas was impressive. To me, all that says collectively is that each campaign had impressive field teams. This is even more impressive in Reid’s case considering how far behind he was at the start of the cycle. Likewise, that the field teams placed enough importance on multiple segments of voters is my starting point. And in an election where Anglo voters should have proven more fickle (and hence, more Republican), the showing among Anglo Dems strikes me as more impressive.

Furthermore, the sheer number of Hispanic voters in each state, based on some assumptions about how CVAP translates to SSVR, isn’t substantive enough to suggest that a “sleeping giant” has been awaken. Those voters are certainly a key component to a successful Democratic coaltion, but the biggest question I see on the board is explaining how the Anglo Dem areas held up while they usually start breaking out some red in pendulum swing elections like 1994 or 2010.

And just to start coloring in the lines, here’s an overview of the Denver area itself. First with demographic majorities shaded in. As always, click ‘em to big ‘em …

Total Population

Voting Age Population

Citizen Voting Age Population

And then for the 2010 Senate election …

2010 Senate Election Results

There should be some obvious and fairly large Anglo Dem areas that jump out when you go through these. If you want one particular highlight, there’s this …

SE Denver Anglo Dem Cluster
2010 Senate results in Majority-Anglo region

This area of Denver is majority-Anglo at each population count: total population, voting age population and CVAP. And the voting precincts are solidly in favor of Michael Bennett in the US Senate race. Over the remainder of the week – possibly more – I’ll be diving into these areas of Denver to see what parallels there are to Houston and what makes Denver unique. In the spirit of crowdsourcing the research, if there’s anything you know first-hand about Denver that might help along these lines, feel free to drop a comment or an email my way. Feel free to download the Google Earth file for all of this and flip through the layers of it for everything shown here, plus the 2010 Governor’s election (with yellow for Third Party sum > Dem or Third Party sum > GOP results).

New ACS Data Coming This Week

September 19, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Chron: Census data still fascinate agency’s veteran leader (Jeannie Kever)

One newsie followup from Friday’s Lanier Public Policy Conference as the Chron’s Jeannie Kever catches up with the keynoter from the event, U.S. Census Bureau, Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg …

Q: This week the bureau released economic data showing poverty levels are up and many Americans are still hurting from the recession. How might policy makers use that information?

A: I’m sure there were hundreds, maybe thousands of stories on that. We view that as being one piece of the puzzle that policy makers will be dealing with. We’ll be putting out another crunch of data on (Thursday), when we release the 2010 American Community Survey. Typically, we put out the facts and let others draw the conclusions.

The one-year ACS releases will be interesting to see how Citizen Voting Age Population figures stack up to the 2005-09 data. Unfortunately for me, the one-year data isn’t detailed enough to be released at the Census Tract or blockgroup level. It’ll be available at the city and county level, though. And those totals are certainly useful.

One of the nicer things to look forward to is that this now creates a fairly rich pool of data to come out of the Census Bureau every year, as the ACS plans on releasing individual year updates and rolling that into the three-year and five-year datasets. That sure beats waiting ten years for a lot of the data that’s now included in the ACS. It should also lead to better population projections between Census releases, as several jurisdictions – not just Houston – had quite a shock in the disparity of their 2008/09 projections and the 2010 Census returns.

The one-year release is the precursor for adding to the rolling three-year and five-year data release, which will have an update come out in December. That should allow for a 2006-2010 version of the CVAP maps to be updated. Yeah, I know … I’m already planning Christmas and High School playoff football around it.

The Holdouts

September 18, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» NY Times: Staying Put in a City of Change

Another great story of demographic change. In this case, it’s sans numbers, charts or maps. But its still a very well told story.

What was once the Locker Room, a sex club where patrons checked their clothes at the door, is now a cosmopolitan bar with pressed-tin ceilings. J’s Hangout, a gay club in her building into which men used to vanish for days, is now a splashy Mexican restaurant with blaring dance music and tacos that cost $18. Stretch Hummers and off-duty bankers have replaced the meat trucks and swingers. The Whitney Museum of American Art is moving nearby.

Ms. Brown said she used to feel as if she were living in a surreal movie. From her window, she could see butchers “in white coats covered in blood, warming their hands over fires in oil cans as pig carcasses are flying by.”

Now she has a view of the Apple store, where lines wind around the block whenever a new gadget is released. “I’m used to seeing some things outside,” she said, “but not white people in sleeping bags.”

She has become something of a hero to stalwarts; a blog dedicated to “Vanishing New York” has cataloged her memories. She has thought about moving, but not seriously; her rent-stabilized apartment and its 18 windows would be impossible to match.

Ms. Brown pines for the old days — “I cannot believe I miss that stench!” — but she understands the futility of New York nostalgia. “If you embrace this city, you have to embrace the fact that it’s not going to stay the same,” she said.

Among the points made by Ron Brownstein at the Lanier Conference on Friday was that future Democratic majorities will not be crafted by winning back the old conservative Democratic areas that are increasingly fading into the rear view mirror (ie – East Texas). Instead, any successful majority is going to have to come from minorities and Anglos who are fine with diversity.

There’s a point that I see in this point from my own Sharpstown/Gulfton. There are certainly a number of old guard, dead-enders who will never move out of Sharpstown and yet who refuse to shop at either of the two nearby Fiesta grocery stores (for a number of reasons that can certainly go beyond tribalism). They’ll also likely continue to vote Republican in partisan elections and against minority candidates in non-partisan elections. But there’s another universe of folks who are absolutely at peace with the demographic change in the area.

Pivoting to my Friday wrap on the conference, one of the takeaways from the powwow was that I left with a lengthy list of metro areas that I’m suddenly curious to map out. What I want to look at are areas that are either new minority-majority areas or on the cusp of becoming minority-majority. I’ve already got Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) mapped out and should have something upcoming for that. I’m presently eying a 4-county area around Denver for a second act. Clark County is minority-majority, while both Denver County has a slim Anglo majority and the 4-county area around Denver has an even bigger majority. In both cases, though, all of the counties in the two areas went Democratic for the 2010 US Senate election.

And the early returns of what I’m looking at lead me to something I’m still trying to flesh out. Namely, what constitutes the Anglo Dem vote in areas outside of the areas that I’m familiar with in Texas. One big component of this is education – highly educated (namely, multi-degreed folk) are more likely to vote Dem than college-educated and below. There are obviously other constituencies that we have a big share of here in the Houston/Harris area: Jewish voters and the GLBT community. Of more importance going outside of Texas is union households (Clark County has a sizable share of this) and other ethnic communities that have a long tradition of voting Dem.

What’s of primary interest to me in going through much of this is how a constituency of highly-educated Anglos and other Anglos whose interests may differ from minority communities can hold together over the coming 20-30 years. You obviously don’t get that answer just from Census and election data. But look for the groundwork of the research soon. If there are other major metro areas that are of interest for looking at after the two I’ve got lined up, feel free to drop a comment or an email my way. I’m primarily interested in areas where there are sizable shares of three demographic groups as opposed to just those where there’s a more binary dynamic between two groups. And I’m trying (more or less) to stay out of midwestern areas where union membership may drive more Anglo Dem support more than it will in the south and west.

Just to add a little bit of color to the story for the time being (so to speak), here’s a view of Winchester, Nevada, just to the southwest of Las Vegas and that includes part of the strip. A view of the 2005-09 CVAP majority by block group indicates that the area has a solid Anglo majority in the snapshot below, yet every precinct also votes Democratic. There are other solidly Anglo areas in the county where the results are mixed. And it would be good to aggregate a few areas to see what the correllation is. But for now, this is one of the phenomenon that I’m exploring …

Food For Thought at the Lanier Conference

September 16, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

As a minor bit of reporting for my whereabouts, I spent a good part of the day attending the Lanier Public Policy Conference’s America 2011: The Lines, Numbers & Politics of a Changing Nation. As if the promise of spouting off a bunch of numbers, demographics, maps, and charts wasn’t enough, the idea of spending time listening to National Journal’s Ron Brownstein and Rice University’s Steve Murdock sealed the deal.

There’s more notes in my head and scribbled on my notepad to go into immediately. So I’ll have to spread out some of it out now that I have a credible excuse to talk about several topics that I haven’t dived into deeply enough.

By way of making a “meta point” about a lot of the conversation and heading into the weekend with a cliffhanger, I’ll offer this much: there was a lot of conversation about the total population and majority-minority status. Voting Age Population and citizenship were discussed, to be sure. But the notions were batted about a bit too easily and one of the dead horses many fine and wonderful ideas that I know I’ve brought up a time or two is that at this point in history, the discrepancy between what the electorate looks like and what either the Total or Voting Age populations are is at a unique pinnacle that makes it a grave mistake to cloud the difference between the two.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Bob Heath, an attorney with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, talk about the ratio of adult citizens to adult among Hispanics in several major Texas cities. The data was right out of the ACS survey and Heath took notices of many of the same disparities that I noticed here.

Likewise, Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center noted a good deal of research that demonstrated why we’ve reached the peak point that we’re at as well as two reasons why it’s declining. For one, immigration has been declining since 2007. Secondly, for the first time since 1960 (ie – effectively the first time under the current era of immigration), growth among Hispanics came more from births than it did from immigration. That second point indicates that much of the short-term growth we will see in the Hispanic population will be among natives already here. It may confuse the question of what it means for Hispanic population growth on the whole, but in terms of enabling better opportunity for civic participation, it strikes me as a net positive.

Taken together, a lot of the conversation leads me to one question: what does it mean to be “minority-majority”?

Economically, the answers may be very different than what they do politically. I believe one of the many points Ron Brownstein made was that we should be on the lookout for more manifestations of the way in which the current Anglo majority deals with an inability to guarantee electoral success. He also noted that Obama was the first Democratic President elected to office while losing the Anglo vote by double digits. And while the 2010 elections may demonstrate that there are ways that the electoral game can be played to maintain a political majority, that does nothing to escape the economic fate of both Anglo retirees who rely on a growing pool of workers who no longer look like them or vote like them as well as those increasingly minority youths who are seeing a not-entirely-proverbial war on voting rights (ie – Voter ID) as well as some economic opportunities even being limited for many of them (ie – opposition to the DREAM Act).

So there’s enough food for thought to create a full buffet of blog posts out of me. Hopefully, I’ll get to that over the weekend as time permits. At one point, I think I may have scribbled down over 30 more areas to map out for a little bit of comparing and contrasting. We’ll see where the time goes. For now, it was time well spent.

The Impending Decline of Alief’s Asian Population Strength

September 4, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

If it seems like I’ve been away from the mapping/census habit recently, its certainly not been for a lack of interesting data. But what I have been looking at recently is a decent way to encapsulate what I think I see going on in the Alief area of Houston, primarily with the Asian population. In terms of national, state, and local aggregated data, Asian population has grown the most rapidly as a percentage against 2000 numbers. But in the case of the Houston area’s biggest Asian population, something very different is going on.

To that end, I’ve tweaked my “population concentration” map concept to add some coloration that allows a visualization of the age/demographic brackets to show where the mix within age brackets suggest a rapid vs more gradual shift for a particular demographic group. This leads to what you see below.

The shorthand version for reading this map is that green represents anticipated “growth” as the population ages while red represents “decline.” The darker the faster it’s likely to happen. The lighter, the more gradual. And if the block group is shaded white, it’s because there isn’t enough change in the Asian population up or down to warrant a conclusion. What you then see is a fairly uniform pattern in Alief and the westward part of Fort Bend County where the Asian population is expected to decline (the red areas). The green areas are more scattered out and they represent areas where the Asian population is expected to rise in the coming years ahead.

full page

The longer-handed version of what I did to create this is as follows: There are four age brackets. Everything is measured against the demographic mix of the 60+ yr-old age bracket. So, if the 30-59 age bracket of the Asian population is more than 7.5% above the share for the 60+ Asians, the assumption is that the block group will experience a gain in the overall share of Asian population sooner rather than later. If the 30-59 age bracket is more than 7.5% below the share for 60+ Asians, it would be expected to experience a decline in the overall share of Asian population sooner rather than later. Both of these would be shaded in the darker green or red, respectively. If the 30-59 bracket doesn’t make either cut, then the question is posed to the 18-29 age bracket. If the same threshold applies, it gets the medium shade of the appropriate color. From there, the process repeats down to the 0-17 age bracket. In this case, I chose 7.5% as the threshold for change. There’s no more reason for that selection than the fact that it meant that enough of the map would be colored in one way or the other, indicating the distribution of the effect.

The caveats that come to my mind for this exercise are as follows: age distribution, and the associated life expectancy measurements that can follow from it, are not the entire story. People can still move in and out. And new immigration patterns can change things drastically. So, for instance, if a new refugee status is granted to some Asian Pacific Island, you might expect to see an influx of population that has nothing to do with what I’m measuring. Likewise, historical districts can be designated and rising home values can impact demographics any number of ways. All this to say that age distribution is but one determinant of the demographic change an area goes through. But it does serve as something of a “gravitational pull” that is often hard to escape. Thousands upon thousands of Anglo schoolchildren will not just magically appear overnight, for instance. And even more important, for the impact of these changes to be realized takes many years – in some cases decades. A lot can change between now and the day when an area is supposed to evolve to the point the data below suggests that it’s headed.

With all that said, the pattern is quite a bit more shocking than even I had expected to see. Typically, it’s easy to find some isolated example that really jumps out to suggest something like “All the Asians are really old and all the Hispanics and African-Americans are really young.” Case in point:

Tract:4531 - Blockgroup: 2
              0-17   18-29    30-59    60+
Hispanic:    58.7%   46.0%   34.2%   15.1%
Anglo:        5.0%    4.8%   10.5%   26.3%
Afr-Am:      18.9%   16.4%   22.9%   10.6%
Asian:       16.4%   33.3%   30.6%   44.1%
Total Pop.:   281     189     571     179

So, instead of relying on some individual datapoints to highlight extreme situations, I do what I do: aggregate. To that end, here are three areas on the west/SW side of Harris County. In each, the age/demographic brackets are broken down so you can get a sense of how each one should “age out” in the coming years ahead. Here are those clusters ….


               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    128,742  9,758  (7.6)  55,894 (43.4)  34,907 (27.1)  27,233 (21.2)
0-17 Years ..  39,343  1,243  (3.2)  20,034 (50.9)  12,242 (31.1)   5,533 (14.1)
18-29 Years .  23,899  1,255  (5.3)  11,437 (47.9)   6,551 (27.4)   4,504 (18.8)
30-59 Years .  51,854  4,111  (7.9)  21,383 (41.2)  13,958 (26.9)  12,083 (23.3)
60+ Years ...  13,646  3,149 (23.1)   3,040 (22.3)   2,156 (15.8)   5,113 (37.5) 

Right off the bat, you see the impact of that uniform blob of red and orange that says that Alief’s Asian population will drop precipitously as the 60+ers die off or move out to retirement homes. Typically, I don’t like to dwell on the 0-17 bracket since kids tend to move out and about by the time they’ve gone to college, gotten a real job, moved out of mom & dad’s place, and so on. But just dwelling on the fact that 18-29 yr olds are a mere 18.8% Asian, which is close to half the level of the 60+ bracket is pretty strong evidence of what’s going on here.

One sidenote to include for this, of course, is that the 60+ share may be impacted by the higher likelihood of Asian households to have multiple generations within the house. I haven’t done any extensive number crunching on that phenomenon, but it’s not just a stereotype … particularly in Alief. As a minor spoiler, it’s interesting to note that this does not seem to apply to the Memorial cluster identified below.

What deserves a bit more highlighting than I think gets done in some of the local coverage is the growth of the African-American population in both Alief and the other clusters I’ll cover here. It may not be as mathematically significant as the rise in Hispanic population, but the fact that there are other growing populations in the area places a cap on how wildly Hispanic growth can really go. The growth in younger African-American population – nearly doubling as you move from the 60+ bracket to the 18-29 bracket – would suggest that the future here is not so much exclusively “brown” as it is mixed, but with a strong tilt toward brown. Electorally, the impact for Alief Hispanics is likely to be even more muted due to citizenship rates that will drag the CVAP and SSVR numbers down. In short, it could very well be that you never have an electorally strong Hispanic population in this neighborhood over the next two decades.

South of Westheimer

               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    42,169  10,113 (24.0)  11,558 (27.4)  14,173 (33.6)  5,714 (13.6)
0-17 Years ..  9,097   1,212 (13.3)   3,225 (35.5)   3,501 (38.5)    985 (10.8)
18-29 Years . 10,277   1,867 (18.2)   2,913 (28.3)   4,126 (40.1)  1,218 (11.9)
30-59 Years . 18,220   4,703 (25.8)   4,673 (25.6)   5,960 (32.7)  2,667 (14.6)
60+ Years ...  4,575   2,331 (51.0)     747 (16.3)     586 (12.8)    844 (18.4)

What really jumps out here is what will probably send me on another rabbit trail of demographic exploration. Namely, the even more rapid ascent of the African-American population than seen in Alief. In fact, the pace in this cluster outstrips Hispanic growth. Electorally, much of the impact of this is already felt. The redistricting for State House districts saw the GOP nudge existing Afr-Am districts HD131 and HD146 north, though far short of this region. The shift was met with some outcry among African-American politicians, but the reality is that this is a quickly emerging area of strength for African-American political candidates.


               TOTAL     ANGLO           HISP           AFR-AM         ASIAN
Total Pop.    55,733  26,196 (47.0)  11,874 (21.3)  10,361 (18.6)  6,284 (11.3)
0-17 Years .. 11,482   3,830 (33.4)   3,318 (28.9)   2,623 (22.8)  1,351 (11.8)
18-29 Years . 10,589   3,414 (32.2)   2,733 (25.8)   3,056 (28.9)  1,209 (11.4)
30-59 Years . 24,485  11,784 (48.1)   4,998 (20.4)   4,281 (17.5)  3,037 (12.4)
60+ Years ...  9,177   7,168 (78.1)     825  (9.0)     401  (4.4)    687  (7.5)

We’re into ritzier zip codes here. But if you were to just highlight the 18-29 yr old line, you’d see the makings of Multicultural Houston. And it’s not just a rise in Hispanic population. African-American population (again) grows faster as you work down the age brackets.

The sidenote on the Asian population here is that this cluster covers a sizable share of where you see multiple blockgroups where there is growth as you go down the age brackets. But collectively, that growth doesn’t translate into much in terms of a potential political impact. So, taken together, what each of these clusters suggests with specific regard to the Asian population is that Alief’s population is getting less Hispanic and that the areas where there is growth may not see enough critical mass to benefit Asian candidates. When the excuse was offered that Hispanics were growing in population shares everywhere and that this made it difficult to draw new concentrated, compact districts to empower Hispanic voters, I’m already on record as saying that this was bunk. But in the case of Asian voting strength, this may be the direction for the next decade.

To be sure, there will still be a substantial share of Asians in Alief come 2050. But it’s likelier that it will be south of the 21.2% measured here with 2010 data. It should prove to be worth watching to see other ways in this these changes impact the areas mentioned above.

The ‘Phantom District’ Mystery

» Wash. Post/The Fix: Latino leaders pessimistic about new Latino districts

Let me start by saying that I think The Fix’s Aaron Blake is generally one of the better election reporters out there. But this is the sort of reporting that generally sends my forehead in the general direction of a brick wall ….

… despite upwards of a dozen new districts created by redistricting where Latinos could constitute a majority – and many others where they will be close to it – there is a real sense of apprehension whether they can be won by Latino candidates.

The reasons why, to hear Latino leaders tell it, is complicated.

The article goes on to list the usual suspects that get mentioned in stories involving Hispanics and elections: low turnout, lack of focus by campaigns on Hispanic voters, the relative youth of the Hispanic population, establishment preference for Anglo candidates, etc…. All of these are worthwhile discussions that should certainly be addressed when discussing how best to increase opportunities for a fast-growing share of the American population to elect candidates of their choice (Hispanic or otherwise).

One thing not mentioned, however: citizenship.

There are two main examples given in the story for specific election contests: the TX-35 primary between Lloyd Doggett and the New Mexico US Senate primary between Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas. It probably deserves some context that both of these are partisan primary contests that will involve a smaller subset of voters. That may actually make the demographics of both TX-35 and the state of New Mexico to the advantage of or either candidate in both races. As I’ve noted in the case if TX-35, the recent election history favors Castro.

One other example offered is of California’s congressional districts:

Under the final map passed by that state’s redistricting commission, there are 13 California House districts with a majority of Latino residents. Of those, only one has Latinos constituting more than 52 percent of the voting-age population. Another eight have between 49 percent and 52 percent Latinos who are 18 years or older, and 12 more have at least one-quarter adult Latinos.

Assuming that I’m looking at the same current information, the numbers for these districts is not Voting Age Population, but CVAP. See page 19 of the plan’s demographic detail. That poses a bit of apples-to-oranges comparison here. For one, California at least does a fairly efficient job of maximizing Hispanic CVAP majority districts. There may still be some legitimate Voting Rights Act concerns, but there is significantly more difference between a VAP-majority and a CVAP-majority than in decades past. That the California’s districts of concern are at CVAP majority status would seem to make those the least of concerns compared to, say, Nevada’s new Hispanic district.

Likewise, there’s nothing that I see about how primaries effect the election math. A case in point for this can be seen in how, for instance, many African-American districts in Texas can perform as opportunity districts with under 40% Afr-Am VAP shares is that. For one, many of these districts have substantial shares of Hispanics, whose numbers drop when going from VAP to CVAP. In many cases, the shares are high enough that the shift makes the district an African-American majority at CVAP. But the other factor is that participation in the primaries is wildly different for Hispanics and African-Americans in many of the larger, urban counties.

For Hispanic voters, however, the math rarely goes north. Instead, a district drawn to look appealing based on total population or voting age population numbers looks very different when you get account for citizenship. And if the election is decided in a primary, that primary may look very different than a General Election (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst). And if the election is held in an odd-numbered year, that district may turnout at very different levels (see City of Houston, District J).

Whatever the causes, it just seems irrational to ignore the single biggest driver of the phenomenon. At one point in the Texas redistricting debates – I’m not sure if it was during a hearing of floor debate – I seem to recall Burt Solomons going over the various numbers and how they’re used. It was a pretty good distillation that serves as a reminder that people do at least get this. It just seems puzzling that it gets so ignored so quickly and so often.

In short, Solomon’s point was that VAP is useful, helpful and illustrative. But to get to a real definition of opportunity, you go down to CVAP. And for a higher bar test, you look at SSVR. 50% is obviously a magic mark since it obviously signifies a majority. From Solomon’s partisan perspective, it obviously served his purposed to use the highest bar possible and CVAP was high enough. That offered them a rationale for not being expansive with Hispanic opportunity districts that would surely cut into the GOP supermajority. But it also allowed him the opportunity to suggest that taking Jessica Farrar’s district, which had gone through significant “honkification” over the decade – from roughly 40% Hispanic to 50% Hispanic and call it a “new” Hispanic district that’s been electing Hispanic candidates who are the choice of the Hispanic voters for at least a few decades now.

I’m well aware that all of this leads to a flood of different numbers that can lead to more confusion than clarity. But I do think the lack of attention given to CVAP is a big culprit. It’s the best indicator for what the ceiling is for voter registration efforts and offers the clearest view of what the pool of potential voters is likely to be. So why ignore it?

Census Stories: The Declining Hispanic Birthrate of Arizona

September 1, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» AZ Republic: Hispanic birthrate dips in Arizona

One more reason that future decades will not necessarily replicate the growth seen in Hispanic population growth …

Hispanic women in Arizona are having children at a significantly lower rate than in past decades, which could slow overall population growth if the trend continues, according to new state and federal data.

Experts cite various reasons for the decline.

Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, director of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, said the trend is an extension of a pattern that began in Mexico and is likely occurring in other U.S. states. As more Mexicans moved from the rural areas to cities and became more educated, they tended to have fewer children and the birth rate declined. Most Hispanics in Arizona are of Mexican descent.

“Mexico itself has changed from a very rural nation to a very urban one,” he said. “That shift started in the 1960s.”

Between 1960 and 1965, there were 6.75 births per Mexican woman, according to data from the United Nations. By the 1990-95 period, that had fallen to 3.19, the U.N. reports.

Assimilation also could be a factor as birthrates for Hispanics with multiple generations in the U.S. are beginning to mirror those of the country as a whole.

But Vélez-Ibáñez rejects the idea that assimilation alone explains the decline. He said that as in other countries like Mexico, as Hispanics become more educated and more affluent and as divorce rates creep up, their long-term birthrates will keep falling.

“In 20 to 25 years, you’ll have replacement rate (births), and that’s about it,” Vélez-Ibáñez said.

I’m still doing a lot of work slicing up the last Census release into age brackets, so I haven’t gotten as deep as I’d like in other areas that factor into making population projections. But I’m now a lot more curious to see how some of the individual major Texas counties track along with this example.

A Tale of Two Back-to-School Charts

August 24, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

I’m presently knee-deep in two very different projects right now. One of which, is still some more Census exploration. One topic I’m looking at is some different ways to display and show some future trends toward demographic change. One method was hinted at in this post, showing the decline among four age brackets for Anglo population and the corresponding growth over those age brackets for Hispanic population.

One that came up in conversation this week had to do with school enrollment and growth patterns. There’s likelier to be better data that can be found from individual school districts, but here’s what the Census puts out in their American Community Survey. In it, you can get a sense of the ratio of students at all levels of K-12. There are other categories of education as well, but this excludes those for this little snapshot.

There’s also a grain of salt to take in this regarding the higher dropout rates for Hispanic population. I’d still feel very comfortable in suggesting that the trend is tilted toward a growing share of Grades 1-4. So, comparing two heavily Hispanic areas with two wealthy Anglo areas, you get this very isolated view:

Census Tract |    4213    |    2108     |  
             |  Gulfton   | North Side  |
Grades 1-4   |   56.7%    |    55.3%    |
Grades 5-8   |   30.3%    |    30.3%    |
Grades 9-12  |   13.0%    |    13.8%    |

Census Tract |    4304    |     2509    |  
             |  HdwgVillg |   Kingwood  |
Grades 1-4   |   26.0%    |    23.0%    |
Grades 5-8   |   30.2%    |    36.8%    |
Grades 9-12  |   43.8%    |    40.1%    |

Believe me … in demographic circles, patterns like this make your hair stand on end. I’m not sure the patterns hold to this extreme level once you start aggregating multiple census tracts. I will say that many of the more middle-income Anglo areas I looked at had a higher peak in the 5-8 grades and that the tract that encompasses the River Oaks Country Club had a similar pattern to that. So there are outliers, there are cases where there may be a lot more going on than the Census or ACS data tell us, and it may very well be that the differences are a bit more nuanced than an isolated example like this demonstrate. Once I find the time to focus more on this, I’m sure I’ll have a gaggle of new maps that require a bit of explanation for how to read, but attempt to tell this story nevertheless.

Georgia Learns About Redistricting & Latinos

» Jim Galloway (AJC): A first Latino district – without a Latino lawmaker

A few things that catch the eye from this report:

- Georgia has had two Hispanics (one from each party) elected to the General Assembly since 2002 without either being elected from a majority-Hispanic district.

- There is now substantial enough Hispanic population in the area to warrant a Hispanic-majority district for the first time.

- Neither of the two Hispanic electeds are drawn into that district.

Not surprisingly, partisan warfare is the culprit. The lone Hispanic Dem is targeted and seems to be drawn out into a more GOP-friendly district. The Hispanic Republican, I assume, is safe. So, the big number that caught my eye in this blog post was the following excerpt from the Georgia Report:

Without moving the lines at all and taking into account the 2010 Census numbers, District #99 stands at 58% (54% CVAP) Latino population and the proposed redrawn legislative district dilutes the Latino population to 56% (52% CVAP).

If you’ve been following along with this blog since January-ish, you might see what set my alarm system off. It would seem that this part of Gwinnett County, Georgia has a CVAP conversion rate of about 90%. Considering Gwinnett’s inclusion in the metropolitan Atlanta area, a 90% CVAP conversion rate for Hispanics would be unheard of. So I dusted off my spreadsheets and got to crunching a little. If you’re weird and you want visuals to see the districts and Hispanic concentration, here’s a Google Earth file for such.

It probably would have saved me time to have gone to the Assembly’s redistricting page* and look at the numbers they show for the new District 99. Turns out the quote was wrong … the population in the new district is 56% TOTAL population Hispanic and 52% VOTING AGE population Hispanic.

A spot-check of one of the towns (Norhill) in the district show a CVAP conversion rate of 19% – which I’ll admit strikes me as incredibly low, but we’re talking about a total H-VAP of 2,680 and a H-CVAP of 515. So perhaps it’s just a function of small numbers and isolated geography showing the occasional weird result. It would make sense to learn that Atlanta is very much an entry-way location for Hispanics in much the same way that Houston or Dallas are here in Texas. But still, I’m at least a little intrigued to see what the overall CVAP conversion rates are in the more immediate area (Atlanta’s citywide rate is 39%, which is still surprisingly low).

The long and short of this is that it never ceases to surprise me how people will view a majority-Hispanic district while recognizing that citizenship plays some sort of vague, mysterious role in the lowering of that number, but then blame Hispanics for “not voting” when they fail to convert that ghost-like majority into the election of a candidate of their choosing. Indeed, if I had to speculate, I’d guess that the new District 99 in this case, is drawn to favor the GOP over a Dem incumbent. Anglo voters should likely be in a majority and racially polarized voting is severe in the Atlanta suburbs.

The numbers aren’t exactly hiding. They’re just not being looked at and talked about enough. And given the historical immigration boom of the last decade that has created population explosions like the one in Gwinnett County or Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the lack of understanding how it has impacted redistricting is a loss that Hispanic and Latino voters may suffer from for a full decade (all while being blamed for it, to boot).

* – btw, kudos for Georgia putting Google Earth files on their page!

Estamos Viviendo Aquí en Allentown

August 22, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» The Atlantic: El Nuevo Normal: Latinos Transform Pennsylvania Steel Country (Caitlin Dewey)

It’s probably just me – check that, it really is just me and I’m pretty sure that there is no therapist who deals with this specialty – but I found this article insufferable to read without a map and some Census data to give me some sort of idea about the scale this article talks about. To wit, here’s the map of population concentration for Lehigh and Northampton counties (total population; color scale showing 50%+, 40-50%, 20-40%, and 0-40% Hispanic population).

When I mapped out these two counties from the Lehigh Valley, I got an overall count of 15% Hispanic and 76% Anglo. While that might be a dramatic change from the 2000 Census numbers, it didn’t seem overly newsworthy in and of itself. So, given that the bulk of this concentration is in the city of Allentown, it seems relevant to point out that the city is 42.8% Hispanic and 43.2% Anglo as of the 2010 Census. That’s a pretty impressive mix for an area not necessarily regarded as “Transitional” or even “Hispanic.”

Also, I’m reminded of a book that piqued my interest a little too lightly back in 2010, but now I’m suddenly more interested in going back to find: Edgar Sandoval’s “The New Face of Small-Town America: Snapshots of Latino Life in Allentown, Pennsylvania.” There’s a brief Q&A with the author here for a taste. Sadly, the book isn’t Kindle-friendly.

The article itself, struck me as good in some ways that many demographic change stories typically don’t; but still lacked a little bit of info that I think should be included in more such stories. Namely, that missing element is the “why.” As in: why are they moving there? There’s isn’t much of a hint. We get some insight – via a Penn State report – that the local Hispanic population will help “reverse the negative effects of urban blight.” But I doubt that people are just moving there because of an underserved bodega market.

What I did like about this story is that it touched on some of the broader immigration trends that feed into this type of change.

By current estimates, the second generation of Hispanic immigrants will peak in 2025. By 2045, the third generation will outnumber the second. Many demographers hesitate to predict exactly what those changes will entail — it’s too early to guess at the preferences and values of young Hispanics.

But if the current patterns of assimilation hold, we can make a few decent guesses at the national level. English will remain America’s primary language, for one, and Spanglish will fade out after the second generation as speakers lose the need to mix two tongues. Most Hispanics will retain spoken Spanish-language skills, becoming fully bilingual. This could give them an edge in the job market, perhaps pushing non-Hispanic Americans to learn Spanish as well.

Catholicism and conservative social values will remain a strong force in the moral and political lives of Hispanics, though their pull will wane over time. Four of ten first-generation immigrants attend weekly Mass — their grandchildren will likely go sometimes or never. If this trend continues, it could theoretically leach into the political arena, where social issues often determine votes. Early polling already indicates that Hispanic youth lean more liberal on issues like abortion and gay marriage than their parents did.

As for cities, the most contested battlegrounds in immigration turf wars, current research suggests that the borders of ethnic neighborhoods blur over generations. Consider the case of Manhattan’s much-diluted Little Italy, which the New York Times dubbed “Littler Italy” in a February story. Wealthier Hispanics tend to assimilate into Anglo neighborhoods, moving into the suburbs or nicer areas of the city. Poorer Hispanics tend to move into lower-class, largely African-American neighborhoods, where social immobility and lack of opportunity prevail. In these poor neighborhoods, where schools are worse and incoming immigration persists, assimilation might not occur at the rate it does elsewhere.

Regardless of the pace of assimilation, however, the effects will remain the same, say Smith and other forecasters: Two or three generations from now, Hispanics will look, speak, and act like the descendants of first- and second-wave immigrants. In other words, exactly like everyone else.

That’s a good deal of food for thought and future reading. In breaking out the Census data by age, it’s possible to project short-term changes based on life expectancy. That doesn’t account for migration within the US and immigration from outside the US. Nor does it help in accounting for economic factors that can sometimes drive demographic change in ways that go against the grain. But it’s a decent indicator of the way that the rudder is pointing the ship.

There are probably a few questions worth tossing at the theory that Hispanic culture will look increasingly like Anglo culture over time. At least based on the Texas experience. Houston being set aside as more of an entry-point city with more first-generation Latino immigrants, San Antonio and Corpus Christi seem far enough removed from the border to begin being considered as a case study where you have a multi-generational Hispanic population (as indicated by their CVAP conversion rate) that may offer a bit of a counterweight to the notion that, at the end of the day, we all listen to American Top 40 radio.

In any event, lots of good reading. As mentioned in the byline, the writer is a Carnegie-Knight News21.com fellow involved with the “El Nuevo Normal” website (which I wish I knew about earlier). Definitely worth a bookmark.

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