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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 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.


Long Lost Aggre-Blogging: Now That I’m Back

Nothing like a week filled with web programming, yucky cold, and other work-related stuff to keep the blog habit at bay. So now. Where was I?

» TX Redistricting: DOJ rejects Texas’ voter ID law
» Chron: Justice Department rejects Texas' voter ID law
» TX Tribune: Feds Reject Texas Voter ID Law
» Chron: Texas' contested voter ID law could shave voter rolls
Sorta big news. Now to see what happens with the state's pushback efforts. Whether this case does anything to chip away at Section 5 remains to be seen. But it's a given that Section 5 will get a day in court in front of the GOP-controlled Supreme Court.

» Pew: Romney Leads GOP Contest, Trails in Matchup with Obama
Time to start taking the head-to-head comparisons against Obama more seriously. And, already, they seem to show a mixture of results. ABC/Washington Post had Obama losing to both Romney & Santorum. This one has Obama leading. It could be a tough election to read, which I think is good business for Nate Silver.

» Education Next: Obama’s Education Record
... and also time for assessment of Obama's record.

» Washington Post: Mitt Romney’s dog-on-the-car-roof story still proves to be his critics’ best friend
I'm not going to lie - I see this as a big character issue. All of my family's bassets rode inside. Sometimes in the driver's seat. Always with tongue flailing in the wind of an open window. It's how God intended dogs to ride.

» NY Review of Books: Our Corrupt Politics: It’s Not All Money
An interesting take on the impact of money in politics toward votes in the legislature. It's not totally counter to the proposition that Mark Green raised in "Who Owns Congress", but there's still some room between Green and Chait to fill in. Who knows - if time ever permits, I may have to revisit my old 1988 thesis on campaign finance reform.

» NY Times: When States Put Out the Unwelcome Mat
» NewsTaco: West Texas Miracle Producing Future Latino Leaders
» MSNBC: Racist? Texas high school apologizes for fans' 'USA!' chant after basketball game
» TX Tribune: Claudia Kolker: The TT Interview
A small gaggle of signposts and otherwise interesting reading on how the modern era of Hispanic demographics is different than before.

» TechPresident: Sean Parker: New Technology Can Diminish The Dominance Of Money In Politics
Put me on the fence with this one, I suppose. I'm not seeing online tools diminish the importance of money so far. For the most part, most of the online tools are an add-on rather than a substitute. Certainly, having the voter file online is a nice substitute and could theoretically be seen as a cost saver. But it usually helps to have an expert user to go along with that tool since not every 70-yr old grandma can operate VAN. Until there's a success story about costs being saved due to online tools, I'm the skeptic.

» Media Decoder: After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses
This is a sad, yet highly predictable day. There were three major timekillers that I usually had at my disposal during college: looking up old election stats and mapping county maps for Senate/Governor elections around the nation (try not to act surprised); digging through the magazine archives on topics I would have not otherwise studied (for some reason, I recall a lot of medical journal and anthropology reading); and picking up a random EB to pick a random topic to read up on. They're clearly the most well-written encyclopedias known to man. I may have to pick up a stray single copy from a thrift store now just to be able to prove that such a thing existed to future generations.

» Washington Post: In Iraq, growing gap sets Kurdistan apart
Interesting reading, in and of itself. At church, we also heard news of a tragic event from a couple of missionaries from our community. Given the rush to classify this as a standard-issue Muslim vs Christian war, it's heartening to know that there's some peacefulness that comes from this one. That the overall story seems to represent an isolated incident within the broader relative peacefulness that seems to exist in Kurdistan.

» NY Times: How India Became America
Behold, the last Starbucks-free refuge now seems on the verge of being over-run.

» ESPN: NFL Nation - Peyton Manning tag
In case you didn't know what the single biggest sports story was. I'm just relieved that the Arizona Cardinals seem to be out of consideration. The second biggest free agency news seems to be that Texans' DE Mario Williams is being wooed by Buffalo.

» Star-Telegram: Coincidence? Former Trinity HS QB signed by Colts, one day after they cut Manning
I'm biased, but I can totally see Trevor Vittatoe as Manning's replacement. More seriously, I'm sure this is nothing more than a placeholder move. There's been a small amount of interesting reading on the life that roster-filler type players go through. Basically - you sign for a few days to a team and bounce around among a number of different teams during a season. All that for roughly $15-20k if you're lucky. Any there's nothing to suggest that a good warehouse job that understands your situation wouldn't be a bad thing to have. Oh, and stay in peak shape the whole time. If you're lucky, an Arena Football League or UFL gig will open up for better stability as a professional athlete. Not exactly the most glamorous thing in the world.


Weekend Cache Clearance

A little light reading from the week that I don't have the time to blog about ...

» Chron: Feds offer new guidance on when to dismiss immigration cases

» NY Times: Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains

» Wash. Post: Bolivian migrants ride out hard times

» NY Times: Disenfranchise No More


The Global Neighborhood Next Door

» 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%)

red = Anglo majority; black = Afr-Am majority; brown = Hispanic majority; yellow = no majority


Hispanic Marketing Meets Multiculturalism

» NY Times: Telemundo Blends English Into a Mostly Spanish Lineup

Time to break a few stereotypes in Hispanic marketing ...

Bilingual Hispanics, defined as speaking English more than Spanish or Spanish and English equally, are 82 percent of the United States Hispanic population, according to a report released this year by Scarborough Research, a consumer research firm.

This group has more disposable income than the more Spanish-speaking recent immigrants, with 12 percent of acculturated Hispanic families earning $75,000 to $100,000 a year, the study said.


Advertisers also may be attracted by the fact that Hispanics watch more TV as a family, with Spanish-speaking grandparents often gathered around the TV with their predominantly English-speaking grandchildren, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Shows that incorporate both languages and cultures can hook multiple generations.

I've only taken a glance at what some of the Census data says about language proficiency, but one of the more interesting tidbits was that English proficiency is more common in South Texas than it is among more urban Hispanics. That would suggest that it might be more worthwhile to advertise in Spanish in Houston or Dallas while it might be more worthwhile to advertise in English in McAllen.

The article also covers some insight on how the move is fueled by the Telemundo vs Univision tug-of-war. But I think the anecdote offered in the conclusion has a bit to add to the multicultural stuff I've been knee deep with ...

“In my house, we speak Spanglish to the dogs, to the grandchildren, to the kids. My kids are American,” [Cristina] Saralegui said. “That’s what’s happening in the U.S. now versus when I started and it was the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York and the Mexicans in Los Angeles. Now, we’re all mixed up from 23 countries.”


Chart of the Day: From Citizenship to Voting

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.


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.


Harris County’s 2010 ACS Population Count

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        ***                ***                ***   

Denver’s Demography and the Case of the Anglo Dems

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).


Food For Thought at the Lanier Conference

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.

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