Day two of the San Antonio court proceedings are underway. I'm merely watching twitter and checking email to see if anything interesting happens. One particularly interesting point made in the testimony (as tweeted by Nolan Hicks) ...
MALDEF: 80 percent of Democratic primary voters in 2010 were Anglo.
You definitely get some interesting findings when you search in VAN for any kind of electorate and then see what the racial makeup of it is. And if more of that information was out in the public eye, it would definitely alter how many people understand their own districts. Just take it from this resident of Houston City Council District J ... ya know, the "Hispanic Opportunity District" as described by everyone except the guy who drew it and me.
TANGENTIAL, DEMOGRAPHIC-RELATED ADD-ON: Reading Jason Stanford's post over at HuffPo ...
Add to that the anomaly of Texas Hispanics' miserable rates of voting participation, and you understand why Texas is a Republican state and not a swing state. Hispanics are 37 percent of the Texas population -- and rising -- but they're only 15 percent of those who show up at the polls.
"There is a mystery to Texas," Andre Pineda, the late Democratic pollster, told me last summer. "Why is it that Latinos turn out less there? I think the Democratic performance of Latinos is a big difference but not a defining difference because it's when you throw in the turnout part that explains why Texas is red." Translation: Not only are Texas Hispanics less likely to vote than California Hispanics, but they are more likely to vote Republican when they do.
Right about now, the sound of my head slamming against my desktop should make for a handy metronome to guitar practice tonight. How is that we're having the umpteenth bazillion conversation about Hispanic population share anywhere in Texas and omitting the impact that citizenship has on that share. In fact, the state is roughly 25% Hispanic when you break it down to Citizen Voting Age Population.
The point about 15% of turnout being Hispanic, I've seen differing numbers with 15 being on the low end. But it's certainly close enough to whine about. In general, there isn't a "Hispanic problem" with regard to turnout, so much as there is an "economic problem" with regard to turnout. Ignoring the latter and assuming you can fix the former independent of that is a bit of a mistake. And believe me ... it's one we've tried many times in the past.
The bigger dispute I have with the rest of Jason's take is over the fact that Hispanics are voting 1/3 Republican. I've seen the exit polls and I've seen the equally questionable studies that suggest its much lower. But if you take a hard look at precincts that are overwhelmingly (90% or more) Hispanic, you don't see much evidence that 1/3 of the votes are going the other way. And when you factor in the Hispanic population surge in the suburbs, you're left with a very tough rationale to explain why the Democratic vote in those areas rises as they get more diverse if those Hispanics are voting more Republican than they are back in the 'hood.
I don't quarrel with Jason's conclusion. But the points used to illustrate the problem are flawed. I'm not convinced that getting Hispanic turnout up to 20% of the electorate is realistic. But doing the work to increase it would be a nice thing to see. Fortunately, you can see it in every competitive election. It was certainly done in 2010. So what else is needed?
TIME-KILLING SIDENOTE: Some quick and extremely dirty regression analysis from a data geek who rarely does regression analysis except to calculate Quarterback Ratings. Here's what I get from looking at House Districts and using CVAP shares for Anglo, Afr-Am, Asian, and subbing out Hispanic with the SSRV share to calculate what share of the vote each demographic supported Susan Strawn for in 2008:
Obviously, you can't vote 108% for anyone. That bit of data does suggest that turnout was above and beyond for African-Americans, though. If I do some even dirtier extrapolation and back that number down to 97% among Afr-Am voters, the question is what to do with the remainder.
Among the problems with taking these numbers as gospel is that I'm still overstating Hispanic vote share among the actual electorate. Ideally, I'd have a fairly reliable count of the share for each demographic among actual voters. Even using the lower metric of SSRV instead of H-CVAP, I'm still overstating the share of Hispanic vote. If I just pick some percentage at random and say that the electorate share of Hispanics is 90% of SSRV, I feel obliged to define an "Other" category that covers both the unattributed share of voters lost from this calculation and the true "Other" for non-covered demographic groups in this simple breakdown. When I do that, I get the following:
The instant you compress Afr-Am numbers down to 97% or whatever comparable share of support for Dem candidates you opt to select, that starts to raise the performance of other groups. Where anyone goes with that, be my guest to invent your own mathematical concoction. But what it doesn't do is anything that would lower the vote performance among Hispanics. Which means they likely voted somewhere in the ballpark of 80% Dem in 2008.
Based on my understanding of urban areas, that 80% mark sounds about right. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on voting patterns in other areas. But look at HD31 - it's the most Hispanic district in the state: 95%. SSRV is over 91%. I think a good ballpark assumption for any turnout differential might peg the electorate share at about 85%. Let's call the 2008 average Dem performance at about 80%. If those Hispanics voted 1/3 Republican, that would mean that Dems would get to 55% on the back of Hispanic votes alone. If they got 100% of everyone else, they would get 70% of the vote. And yet, in the much more difficult year of 2010, Dems got an average of 75% of the vote in that district.
So, needless to say, I'm not buying the 1/3 GOP vote for Hispanics. The work above isn't the best math in the world for getting to the core of this, but I think its good enough for outlining the ballpark. And to me, that ballpark looks more along the lines of 75-80% of Hispanic voters voting Dem.
Seriously, I don't judge any of you for what you choose to do on a lunch break. So don't judge me.