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10Aug/120

Actually, All Voters Are Important

» Scott Braddock: Stop Telling Me Latinos Are Important

So this caught my eye ...

Campos says Democrats are only engaging voters in urban areas and completely ignoring the suburbs and rural Texas, where many so many Latinos now live. In fact, of the 360,000 Latinos registered to vote in Harris County, nearly 60 percent live in the suburbs. And they didn’t move there because the suburbs are Republican strongholds.

I'm not sure where the 60% number comes from since Braddock doesn't source it. But I'm guessing that the ballpark guesstimate is also a function of what someone calls the "suburbs" within Harris County.

The bigger reason that this statement caught my eye was because I've generally been among those pointing out to my fellow Dems that the biggest bulk of Hispanic voters aren't in what is traditionally known as Hispanic neighborhoods. Instead, they reside in areas less likely to be worked in a manner that appeals primarily on ethnic appeal. And if they were worked in such a manner, that would be prohibitively difficult ... if not counterproductive.

Still, my analysis was that we'd just recently crossed over a tipping point where most Hispanic voters now resided in areas where they were far less likely to be targeted for political communication. Much of this has to do with the dissipation of Hispanics into the less traditional Hispanic areas of the county. To be sure, a good deal of that is the "Suburban Hispanic" point. But what's being called "suburban"?

There was never any way that I'd arrive at a breakdown of Hispanic voters being 60% suburban, though. I'm in some need of updating some work done a little over four years ago along these lines. But I think even a moderately generous view of what constitutes "suburban" and within Harris County still gets you to a roughly 50-50 split of where Hispanic voters reside. The best/quickest guide that I have handy is the new State House district data. Here's what that looks like, with my notation for what I'm calling suburban to show my work ...

Dist    RV      SSRV    Sub
---------------------------
126   87,563   12,163    1
127   95,934   10,202    1
128   92,032   14,281    1
129  100,550   12,602    1
130   95,035    9,192    1
131   74,422   12,736    1
132   78,191   14,062    1
133  102,887    6,849      
134  115,512    8,879      
135   82,536   13,174    1
137   48,859    9,715      
138   75,869   14,486    1
139   87,660   13,386    1
140   54,249   27,527      
141   70,400    9,832    1
142   71,864   12,020    1
143   64,407   32,020      
144   57,234   27,591    1
145   60,091   31,092      
146   86,869    7,920      
147   95,970   13,510      
148   72,507   28,645      
149   76,373   12,031    1
150   90,813   10,525    1

Shorthand explanations are as follows: RV = Registered Voters; SSRV = Spanish-Surnamed Registered Voters; Sub = Suburban.

The links are to the TXPoliticalAlmanac.com page for each district, so you can judge for yourself whether the district qualifies as "suburban". I think the only dicey call here is HD144, which I give the benefit of the doubt and call suburban since it stretches all the way out to Baytown. But I guarantee you that HD144 will not be a district that suffers for lack of Marc Campos' mythical "engagement" of Latino voters. And for whatever it's worth, I don't include HD143 in this chart despite the fact that the district picks up areas like Channelview. So, arguably, I'm splitting a bit of the difference here and I'd argue that it still tilts in favor of classifying more voters as suburban. Still, with HD144 included as suburban, the math adds up as follows:

                RV      SSRV   % of Hispanics
----------------------------------------------
Suburbs     1,236,476  198,283   (54.4%)
Un-Suburbs    701,351  166,157   (45.6%)

If I back out HD144 under the premise of measuring how many Latino voters live in areas where Dem "engagement" is generally lacking, the Suburban share drops to 46.8% ... quite a bit more removed from "nearly 60%". Bottom line: you have to have a very small view of what constitutes "Houston" to arrive at the conclusion that 60% of Latino voters live in the suburbs.

There are certainly issues with how Democrats appeal to Latino voters. Unlike Campos, I tend to place a bit less blame with the party than I do with candidates, however. There are just a lot of bad assumptions out there and politics is an astoundingly crappy industry that has never thrived on pristine, inarguable, scientific knowledge. And anyone waiting for any political party to remove the proverbial sword from stone is either playing a fool's game or pitching a consulting contract to said party. Candidates close the sale with voters, not party organizations.

If you want to solve the problem, run good candidates in the districts where we need to touch those other half of Latino voters (and those of every other demographic stripe), even when you know the deck is stacked against them winning in November.

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