» 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.
Time for some new data from the Census Bureau. As stated a couple of dozen times before, the counts for citizen, voting age population (CVAP) are no rolled out on an annual basis as part of the Bureau's American Community Survey. It's been a little while since this came out, but I seem to be stuck in work mode for a couple of clients waiting on a district to be finalized and approved for running in. Priorities and whatnot.
Anyways, here's the Harris County view, with the 2005-09 CVAP counts left in and the 2006-10 CVAP counts tacked on for easy comparison.
Total Pop. (%) 18+ Pop. (%) CVAP-09 (%) CVAP-10 (%) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TOTAL 4,092,459 2,944,624 2,195,535 2,230,550 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Anglo 1,349,646 (33.0%) 1,085,630 (36.9%) 1,090,624 (49.7%) 1,051,265 (47.1%) Hispanic 1,671,540 (40.8%) 1,082,570 (36.7%) 494,695 (22.5%) 530,490 (23.8%) Afr.-Am. 754,258 (18.4%) 541,108 (18.4%) 481,492 (21.9%) 506,150 (22.7%) Asian 249,853 (6.1%) 194,956 (6.6%) 106,547 (4.9%) 120,660 (5.4%) Other 67,162 (1.6%) 40,360 (1.4%) 22,177 (1.0%) 21,985 (1.0%)
If those seem like huge changes for one year on the two CVAP counts, there are a few things worth keeping in mind:
1. Some of this is obviously affected by natural demographic changes from the five-year period initially calculated to the new five-year period. I'm not inclined to accept that the majority of the change from the 2009 to 2010 CVAP counts is a result of true population changes.
2. An issue noted from the 2005-09 data is still relevant to keep in mind: there are datapoints from as far back as 2006 incorporated into the estimates. This post gives a fair snapshot of it. Basically, what CVAP captures something of a midpoint of the change from the 2000 Census numbers to the 2010 Census numbers. I doubt this has a huge impact on the year-to-year changes, outside of losing the 2005 datapoints in the 2005-09 CVAP data. But it's definitely something worth checking before anyone gets too excited or too depressed over any particular change for any given column or row above.
3. The Census Bureau itself does a little bit of updating in how they calculate these estimates, so there's bound to be a little bit of correction built into these numbers. I'm not sure how much of an impact this has on year-to-year changes. But the Bureau's reporting of CVAP data has been an issue even beyond redistricting. I've not read any updates on specific changes, but I think it's worth chalking up a not-insignificant share of the change to changing methodology.
With that, here's the map of Harris County by Block Group, color-coded to reflect which demographic group has a majority within the block group. Standard coloring applies: red is for Anglo majority; black is for African-American majority; brown is for Hispanic majority; green is for Asian majority (this is actually a fairly new wrinkle for those keeping track at home). Yellow is for no majority, aka - multicultural.
Numbers and whatnot are included in the info window for those who want to poke, zoom, and click. Knock yourself out.
There's definitely some interesting finds here. One really nice change from last year is that the data is collected with 2010 block group boundary definitions instead of those from 2000. That might not mean much for those just using a visual overview of the map below. But the change makes it easy to stack this data up against 2010 Census data.
A cursory look at some CVAP Conversion ratios shows that 52.5% of adult Hispanics in Harris County are citizen. For Asians, the countywide ratio is 64.4%. Anglos and African-Americans are 96.6% and 96.2% respectively. That's taken straight from the ACS survey data's count of 18+ and CVAP. Interestingly, if you look at the combined Census Tract 4214 in Gulfton (bordered by Hillcroft, Gulfton, Renwick, and Bellaire), the 2010 Census counts 6,718 18+ Hispanics and the ACS counts 1,180 Citizen and Voting Age. That's a conversion rate of 17.6%. Welcome to Gulton, ya'll.
If you want to look around more of the data for Harris County and see some side-by-side comparisons, the combo map page is updated with the new map. As noted, the Google Earth file includes not just Harris County, but also Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Chambers, Jefferson, and Montgomery counties. It's fun for the entire family.
» NY Times: Asia Society Expands, East and West
Un-clogging the backlog of stuff I've been meaning to blog about during the past week or so, here's one that caught my eye. And not just because it references the new Asia Society building in Houston. There's a wonderfully valid point here about why such a thing is considered necessary ...
Some may question the need for an Asia Society in an increasingly globalized world. But the society’s executives say the institution has become more essential because it can serve as the link among various constituencies.
“The world is far more interconnected today,” Mr. Chan said. “Hence the need to understand each other is greater than ever before.”
At the day job, we've lugged various presentations to a number of groups to talk about and demonstrate why multicultural population growth requires some new thinking in terms of how people communicate with their target audiences. The solution is never to assume uniformity (even though there can certainly be overlapping similarities in different markets). But the challenge is how to differentiate effectively when you're confronted by diversity that's far more fragmented today than it was before.
Asian culture is a key in the learning experience for that, since there are so many distinct cultures and nationalities that often require such differentiation. But its not just Asian populations anymore. Anyways, just article is an interesting datapoint somewhere in the vicinity of the topic. Read it and check out Houston's facility when it opens.
Hope everyone had a relaxing and/or fulfilling Thanksgiving. A few leftover blog items from stuff I never got around to posting over the extended weekend.
» The Court-ordered Congressional Plan C220 is now updated on the Almanac. I opted to include the 2004 election data since it's pretty helpful to see how the districts performed without a wave election like 2008 or 2010. Lots of interesting districts, including a few that look as if they could switch parties every two years if the plan were to remain in effect during the entire decade. It won't, but .... For more on the legal process, including today's episode with Attorney General Greg Abbott
flailing beckoning the Supreme Court to halt the court's plan, just read everything on Michael Li's blog.
» Sometime this week, I'll have a bit more to unpack on the Center for American Progress's new report: The Path to 270. As one who does a bit of research on demographics and whatnot, I think it's sometimes too easy to overstate the impact of demographics on elections. There's an unmistakable trend to where they're headed, but demographics doesn't change in quick, sudden fits and spurts. One worthwhile point this report suggests is that 2012 will see non-white voters rise by 2 percentage points. I definitely think that's in the ballpark of reality. What's critical, though, isn't how that plays nationally. It's how that plays out in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, and other swing states that cast (or we hope to see cast) narrow Democratic majorities in Presidential years.
» NY Times: Team Obama Gears Up for 2012 ... Remember Barack Obama? Yeah, well he's running for President in 2012, too. I don't know that there's a great deal of new news unearthed here, but it's a decent puff piece on the Chicago-centric view from the campaign compared to the DC-centric view of the Oval Office.
» Chron: A&M sociologist sees shift in immigration trends ... another great, quick Jeannie Kever Q&A. In this instance, A&M's Dudley Poston suggests that Chinese may overtake Mexicans among the ranks of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Not sure I see that happening, but read it and form your own opinion. This brief read over at The Atlantic about the "End of Chinatown" probably deserves equal time, though.
» National Journal: The Left Behinds ... interesting reading on long-term unemployment. Michael Hirsh isn't necessarily an economics writer, but he's a good story-teller. So while the highlights may seem selective in the story, there's still a lot to chew on with this read.
» One good thing finally comes from the sale of the Astros, as General Manager Ed Wade's reign of error is over.
» One (more) bad thing happened to the Texans on Sunday, when backup QB Matt Leinart went down for the season. From my cursory viewing of the preseason play, I thought Leinart might finally prove his worth in the NFL if he had the chance. Turns out it was a bit too brief of a chance. It ought to be an interesting week to find out who our rent-a-QB is going to be. I'm a bit partial to Jeff Garcia or Trent Edwards among the names available. But there's something to be said for Chase Clement coming in and taking over the role once played by Bucky Richardson.
» I'm not sure what to make of the world when it's an odd-numbered year and my high school loses a playoff football game. I'm still planning the trek to JerryWorld for the championship games. Hope springs eternal that Manvel High will send a couple of members of the Klingler family to Arlington that weekend.
» NY Times: No Such Place as ‘Post-Racial’ America (Touré)
I suspect "post-racial" was born benignly from the hope that Obama’s electoral success meant that the racial problems that have long plagued America were over. Kumbaya. Surely Obama’s victory revealed something had changed in America, but it was not a signal that we’d reached the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mountaintop world where race no longer matters and equality has been achieved. During the Obama administration “post-racial” and "race card" and "reverse racism" have run amok like gremlins in the language, obfuscating race and making discussions about it harder. America still has so much work to do regarding race and racism and "post-racial" is only making that work harder to do. That’s why "post-racial" and its cohorts must be stopped posthaste.
I'm sure this'll qualify as a provocative take among some. I remember a brief conversation I had the pleasure of having with Congressman Keith Ellison. I mentioned to him that I was something of a fan of his predecessor, Martin Sabo. Sabo was as white a Lutheran as you could imagine coming out of a Minnesota Congressional district, whereas Ellison was not. The Congressman went on in good detail about how Minneapolis has a pretty good track record of being something close to the "post-racial" ideal. It wasn't just that his district elected him or that there was a diverse population that could support a non-white candidate. At it's origin, it seems to explain some of how a Hubert Humphrey could be political successful making civil rights a signature issue.
That's all fine and well. And there's certainly some other datapoints that I can identify in the Minny/St. Paul metropolis. But it's not the south, where my point of references come from. So I'm not thinking the topic of race is completely done away with just because we elected Barack Obama. There's still discussion to be had and it's a discussion that's largely been avoided when not over-simiplified. Race and demographics still matter and the amount of change in each has shown that it's not just a discussion of theory or other nebulous ideas.
» Washington Post: The new U.S. neighborhood defined by diversity as all-white enclaves vanish
Stop me if you've heard this before ...
John Logan, a sociologist at Brown University who coined the phrase “global neighborhoods” to describe the changes he has been studying for three decades, said the typical pattern is for Asians and Hispanics to move into white neighborhoods, paving the way for white acceptance of more blacks.
“It’s a pathway that eventually could lead to a much higher level of integration” in many parts of the country, Logan said. “There’s some self-selection. The kinds of people who don’t create barriers for Hispanics and Asians to move in as neighbors may be the kind who don’t move when African Americans move in. But the numbers are so large, it’s not like they’re unusual white Americans. They’re becoming the norm.”
“As whites are a smaller share of the population, inevitably what it means is whites are more and more going to share communities with other groups,” Logan said. “The all-white neighborhood is being re-created on the far periphery of metropolitan areas. But aside from that, it’s becoming a thing of the past.”
The article is part of the Post's two-parter in the DC area's instances of population integration and the segregation that remains. It's all great reading if you've been following along with any interest in the blogging I've done on the topic.
The Post even does their own version of demographic mapping, showing pluralities by Census Tract and block group. You can search by zip code or city to get your own preferred view. I think it offers some great added insight to the demographic majority mapping that I've done here.
From a research tangent, I should also note that John Logan is a great source of some useful historical information. I used the data and GIS info from his MapUSA project to build the 1980 and 1990 views of the Census in my demographic majority maps.
Among the relatively unique factors that I see as differences between Harris County and a number of locations elsewhere is that it the Houston area has, at minimum, three substantial demographics. And if you focus on certain areas in the county and particularly if you include Fort Bend in the equation, that turns to four substantially-size critical masses of different demographic groups. I think you can look to a number of major urban areas for examples of three demographic groups driving this kind of change (I got around to mapping out Cook County, IL here). But so far, only the Los Angeles/Orange area of California strikes me as a better example that parallels the Houston area.
In several areas that I've gotten around to mapping in detail, I'm either seeing two demographic groups driving change or where any number of other demographic groups are still relatively small. Denver is one such case that I've blogged about.
Whatever you take away from all of that, I heartily recommend reading both parts of the Post's overview. One point that I'll use to transition to a focus on Houston's southwest side in the week ahead is that the extent to which we see the level of integration reported by the Post, celebrated here and elsewhere ... it doesn't negate the reality that population concentrations still remain - either to the extent that the Post's second part covers in African-American areas, or even in less-concentrated areas such as any number of Houston's Hispanic or Asian population clusters. That's certainly a dead horse I've been beating as redistricting professionals use integration as an excuse for creating better-performing Hispanic or Asian districts.
It may very well be that the level of integration that we see continues and makes the next decade or two much more problematic in defining communities of interest that help in shaping political districts. There are certainly some areas that are more of a challenge than others right now. But so far, the trend has been used more as an excuse than a fact.
As luck would have it, I did run a few maps of the Maryland suburbs around DC in order to get some context for this post on Langley Park's Hispanic population. I only managed to do a CVAP map, so it doesn't show the fullness of the multicultural area that still comes through in the more difficult CVAP filter. Just to help add a little better context, here are the counts and shares within the Multicultural areas shown in the map below. It's not quite as strong of a 3-way demographic tug-of-war, but I believe the more expansive Total Population view should show higher levels of Hispanic population, and hence, more of the 3-way shift that you sense from reading the first part of the Post's series. You can also see that the share of the county residing in an area with no demographic majority is quite different in each county.
Montgomery County Multicultural: (21% of CVAP)
Anglo: 49,050 (40.0%)
Hispanic: 15,385 (12.5%)
Afram: 34,620 (28.2%)
Asian: 21,029 (17.1%)
Prince George's County Multicultural: (8% of CVAP)
Anglo: 15,215 (36.9%)
Hispanic: 4,545 (11.0%)
Afram: 17,530 (42.5%)
Asian: 2,944 (7.1%)
The Asian American Justice Center releases an update of their big profile of the Asian population. This chart showing the disparity of voting-eligibility and voting practice is a pretty useful snapshot for understanding how electorates come to look so different from the populations that elected officials have to represent.
If and whenever time permits, I'll have to add creating a Texas version of this and a Harris County version of this to my to-do list. Among the differences is that I'd expect to see lower gray bars for Hispanic and possibly Asian. There are a number of indicators that suggest that Texas has more of a GOTV problem than a Voter Reg problem compared to other states.
» Wash. Post: Virginia ballots skimp on party affiliation
The way they do it in Virginia ...
Under state election law, ballots list party affiliation only for federal, statewide and General Assembly races. The idea is that omitting the party designation helps keep partisan politics out of local races.
But in reality, candidates for local offices file as Republicans and Democrats and tout party endorsements in campaign literature. By law, school board offices are nonpartisan, so those candidates must file as independents. Even so, school board candidates can and do collect and advertise party endorsements.
“That horse has already left the barn,” said Del. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-Loudoun), who this year introduced a bill to list party affiliation for local races across the state. The bill died in a House subcommittee, even after it was amended to cover only Loudoun County.
“As I would go door to door during my campaigns, people will say, ‘Hey, how come there’s an R next to your name and a D next to [Sen.] Mark Herring’s name, but I have no idea what’s going on with the supervisors?’ ” Greason said. “It’s just more information. People can use it however they want to use it. Providing the information shouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Something to consider alongside the discussion of removing the option to cast a straight-party vote. I tend to favor items that help folks sort out information however they choose to. So the mythology of non-partisan races is certainly something I'm in favor of erasing.
Adam Harris, who left the Parker campaign in June, has not left the campaign account’s payroll. His new firm, Horizon Strategies, is getting about $2,000 a month from the Parker campaign, according to the mayor’s most recent campaign finance report.
But that doesn’t mean he’s back on Team Parker. Harris is not working on the campaign, both he and the campaign’s spokeswoman confirmed.
Instead, he’s the mayor’s liaison to the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.
Of course, Houston municipal elections are non-partisan. So they say. I look forward to Neil's reaction toward this item.
Another tangent that the Post article mentions is the timing of elections:
Martha Brissette, policy analyst for the state elections board, noted that some parts of Virginia have historically tried to distance local races from state and national politics by scheduling municipal elections in May instead of November.
“Some cities and towns now have the option to move [elections] to November,” Brissette said. “People that like them in May express concern, ‘Well, that will make them partisan.’ ”
The reason you see so many states in general - and so many southern states specifically - with the legacy of midterm-year elections, is so that the disparity in electorates and the historical drag on Southern Dem fortunes when the national party dominates the election season were things that old-school Dems sought to avoid. What I'm curious to look more into, however, is whether we're seeing a greater divide in the shape of the electorate from year-to-year. It may be beyond my scope to do some sort of deeper historical study on the matter, but I do think there's something to suggest this is the case in areas where we're in the limbo phase of "minority-majority" population yet not "minority-majority" electorate. I've certainly got enough numbers to crunch with an election season coming to a head and block-level Census data to dive into and an update on the 5-yr American Community Survey to look forward to. So it goes somewhere deep on the to-do list.
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.
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.