The Hispanic population surged 43% in the last decade and Hispanics now make up more than 16% of the nation's population, according to just-released Census figures.
The surge in Hispanics' share of the population, larger than demographers initially had expected, underscores the growing importance of the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group in national -- and local -- politics.
Every state in the nation saw a surge in Latinos, and traditional Latino gateways along the border still have the highest percentage, other states also saw rapid Hispanic growth: There are now 17 states where Hispanics make up at least 10 percent of the population, including Utah, Rhode Island and Kansas.
In five states, Hispanics now account for at least a quarter of the population. In states such as Texas and Arizona, that could be good news for Democrats, who have been benefitting from a Hispanic backlash against Republicans' tough rhetoric on illegal immigration. Exit polls indicated that President Obama got two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election.
Non-Hispanic whites now comprise just under 64% of the population, the Census shows.
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