Latinos Drove Growth in States Adding Congressional Seats, Softened Decline in States Losing Them
Washington – The results of the 2010 Census, released today, confirm what observers of the Latino vote have known for years: Latinos in America are playing a huge role in expanding the political power of a number of states, and in preventing further losses for others. As predicted in the America’s Voice report “The New Constituents: How Latino Population Growth Will Shape Congressional Apportionment after the 2010 Census,” available here, states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are gaining Congressional seats thanks largely to the growth in their Latino populations over the past decade, while Latinos in states like Louisiana, Michigan and New Jersey helped soften losses in Congressional representation. While the report’s population statistics date from 2009, and thus do not perfectly reflect the Census population results, it does predict exactly how Latino voters are impacting Congressional apportionment in each state.
As the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, Latinos are an increasingly powerful voter group as well. Latinos played a crucial role in several congressional and gubernatorial races in November, and the “Latino firewall” saved the Senate for the Democrats by stopping the Republican wave at the Rockies. Immigration reform was a key motivating issue for this segment of the electorate, a fact which hurt candidates who championed hard-line positions and helped candidates who embraced comprehensive immigration reform.
Candidates hoping to win in 2012 will need the support of Latinos—not only in House and Senate races around the country, but in the presidential election as well. And, they will be simply unable to compete for these voters if they demonize immigrants and common sense immigration reform. In fact, several analysts are already wondering how the GOP plans to win back Latino voters after Republican Senators voted down the DREAM Act on Saturday. As former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote before the vote, if Republicans had voted for the DREAM Act and helped it become law, they would have shown that they are “are capable of governing for the sake of everyone” and opened up a new conversation between Latino voters and the GOP. Alas, they did not, and the results of the DREAM Act vote mean that Republican senators blocked the doors to advancement for a bright and talented group of young Latinos.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The media has been paying a lot of attention to the fact that most states that are gaining congressional representation have Republican-controlled state legislatures, who will be in charge of redrawing congressional maps during the redistricting process. But the fact of the matter is, they will be able to add new seats largely due to the growing power of Latino voters, and that power must be respected in redistricting. State legislators are morally compelled to respect the growing power of the Latino community, and legally compelled under the Voting Rights Act to not dilute it for partisan ends. The best way for Republicans to preserve their electoral viability in the long run is not to marginalize the fastest-growing voter group, but to win back the respect of Latino voters by advocating common sense immigration reform. That’s governing for everyone.”
America’s Voice Report “The Growing Power of the Latino Vote in America”: http://americasvoiceonline.org/LatinoVoterReport
America’s Voice Report “The New Constituents: How Latino Population Growth Will Shape Congressional Apportionment after the 2010 Census”: http://americasvoiceonline.org/TheNewConstituents
America’s Voice Memo: “Latino Voters, The 2010 Elections, and Beyond”: http://americasvoiceonline.org/research/entry/latino_voters_the_2010_elections_and_beyond
For more on the 2010 Census and Latinos, see the web site of NALEO Educational Fund: http://www.naleo.org/census2010.