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Election Trends: Examining Counties That Foretell Outcomes in 2012 and Beyond Election Trends: Examining Counties That Foretell Outcomes in 2012 and...

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The Next America - Politics 2012 / Demographics

Election Trends: Examining Counties That Foretell Outcomes in 2012 and Beyond

Aida Castillo places a sticker on her blouse indicating that she had voted during the early voting period, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Las Vegas. In the heavily-Hispanic neighborhoods of Las Vegas, unemployment is high and home values are down. But President Barack Obama's immigration stand has locked in support from a fast-growing demographic group that has been trending sharply Democratic in the wake of increasingly hard-line Republican positions on immigration. Part of the reason is his executive order that allows people brought into the country illegally as children to avoid deportation if they graduate high school or join the military. The president's campaign is counting on Hispanics providing the margin of victory not just in Nevada, but in other swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

November 5, 2012

President Obama made a stop last month in Kern County—California’s agricultural heartland—to establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument near the site where the iconic farmworker-rights leader is buried. He greeted a crowd in impeccable Spanish. “Good morning. Buenos Días. Si, se puede,” he said, elevating the crescendo of applause. “Yes, it can be done.”

California’s 55 electoral votes will go to Obama, so his pilgrimage to the center of the state’s working poor likely demonstrated the president’s desire to generate additional support from swing-state Latinos—those living in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada. Obama is sending a signal that he’s got their backs.

“The Obama campaign has been deliberate in courting the Latino vote,” said Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow and demographer at the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress. “They see the rise of the importance of the group. The Dream Act was not just a coincidence.”

 

The Next America has compiled a list of 15 counties where Latino, black, and Asian-Americans are expected to play a significant role in these presidential and congressional elections and in those to come. The counties were selected after consulting with nonpartisan civic organizations, including the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund and advocacy groups that track minority-voting trends. The list, not intended to be comprehensive, aims to give a glimpse into the growing political minority-voting bloc, a sector that’s only projected to increase every year for decades to come.

In the end, much of Tuesday’s election results will depend on which electorate shows up, Teixeira wrote in The New Republic. While exit polls showed the minority share of the 2008 vote was 26 percent, “it will rise again,” he told The Next America.

(RELATED STORY: Presidency May Rest on Minority Turnout, Uptick Over 2008)

Teixeira predicts that the overall share may increase to 28 percent, following indisputable demographic changes. Every presidential cycle, he says, the share of minority voters has increased by about 3 percentage points. Some may argue that the 2008 election was an anomaly, a historic campaign that brought blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and millennials to the polls in droves. Teixeira disagrees. “The increase from 2000 to 2004 was actually larger: 3.5 points,” he wrote in The New Republic.

“Neither do I believe voter turnout was so high in 2008 that there’s nowhere to go but down,” he told The Next America on Monday.

But looking at select counties can provide a granular examination in communities where demographic change is influencing elections and telling exemplary stories about the coming America.

Clark County in Nevada, for instance, is now a poster child for demographers. Democrats have won every share of the presidential votes for the past three elections, but the victory margin widened by two digits in 2008. And that jump is not surprising. Huge jumps in population around Las Vegas and Reno have made the state more urban. Clark County, according to the political blog FiveThirtyEight, is home to a large portion of Nevada’s population. In Clark, Latinos account for 15 percent of the population and Asian-Americans 33 percent. Non-Hispanic whites comprise just under 42 percent, meaning it’s one of the foreshadowing counties where minorities are no longer minorities. “The core of Las Vegas is the most left-leaning and predominantly Hispanic and African-American,” according to the blog.

California’s Kern County, on the other hand, tells a slightly different story. The agriculturally rich communities around Delano and Bakersfield demonstrate that while the county voted Republican for the last three elections, the grand margin of victory is narrowing. But it may take some time for Democrats to make significant inroads, given the density of migrant workers. Half of the county’s 851,710 residents may be Hispanic, census figures show, but that population does not translate to a heavy voter turnout.

Many hold jobs that make it hard to get to the polls or they are not eligible to vote due to their immigration status, but those not yet of voting age will become a force in years to come.

Other counties across the continent, in the South, are also instructive demographically. Both Wake County, N.C., and Gwinnett County, Ga., have increasing shares of Latinos and Asians, giving rise to culturally diverse suburbs in metro areas. A 2011 Brookings Institution report shows that in these melting-pot suburbs, minorities represent about a third of residents. In the 2000s, the suburbs of Houston, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and the District of Columbia became minority-majority melting pots as well.

Other communities examined, with supporting data below, are urban centers such as Detroit. Many of America's major metro areas have long had black and white residents living side-by-side, but that mix is changing with waves of new Latino immigrants. The newcomers flock to the cities for jobs in restaurants and other service industries that cater to urban professionals. In Wayne County, for instance, about 40 percent of the greater Motor City population is black and nearly half are white. Latinos only account for 5.4 percent, but that percentage is sure to grow.

 

Next America Bellwether Counties

Suburban Melting Pot

COUNTY VICTORY MARGIN
Gwinnett Co., Ga.
Nonwhite population: 56.7%
Black: 25%
Hispanic: 20.5%
Asian: 10.8%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
29721 10
 
WINNER: McCain
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
27684 9%
WINNER: Romney
 
Queens Co., N.Y.
Nonwhite population: 72.4%
Black: 21%
Hispanic: 27.8%
Asian: 24.3%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
325471 51
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
296777 59
WINNER: Obama
 
Pima Co., Ariz.
Nonwhite population: 45.2%
Black: 4%
Hispanic: 35.1%
Asian: 2.8%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
23848 6
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
12728 4
WINNER: Obama
 
Wake Co., N.C.
Nonwhite population: 38%
Black: 21.3%
Hispanic: 10%
Asian: 5.6%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
63890 14
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
54006 10
WINNER: Obama
 
Fairfax Co., Va.
Nonwhite population: 45.9%
Black: 9.9%
Hispanic: 15.8%
Asian: 18%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
109365 21
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
87049 20
WINNER: Obama
 

 

Racially Diverse Counties

COUNTY VICTORY MARGIN
Harris Co., Texas (Houston)
Nonwhite population: 67.3%
Black: 19.3%
Hispanic: 41.4%
Asian: 6.4%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
19099 2
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
585 0
WINNER: Obama
 
San Francisco Co., Calif.
Nonwhite population: 58.2%
Black: 6.3%
Hispanic: 15.4%
Asian: 33.9%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
269928 70
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
179933 69
WINNER: Obama
 
Clark Co., Nev. (Las Vegas)
Nonwhite population: 52.6%
Black: 11%
Hispanic: 29.7%
Asian: 9.1%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
123687 19
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
99755 14
WINNER: Obama
 
King Co., Wash. (Seattle)
Nonwhite population: 35.6%
Black: 6.5%
Hispanic: 9.2%
Asian: 15%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
388514 42
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
Denver, Colo.
Nonwhite population: 47.4%
Black: 10.3%
Hispanic: 31.8%
Asian: 3.6%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
142314 52
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
140004 49
WINNER: Obama
 

 

Historically High Black Populations

COUNTY VICTORY MARGIN
Philadelphia, Pa.
Nonwhite population: 63%
Black: 44.3%
Hispanic: 12.6%
Asian: 6.6%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
478759 67
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
Wayne Co., Mich. (Detroit)
Nonwhite population: 50.2%
Black: 40.3%
Hispanic: 5.4%
Asian: 2.7%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
440503 49.4
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
St. Louis City, Mo.
Nonwhite population: 31.2%
Black: 23.4%
Hispanic: 2.6%
Asian: 3.6%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
108263 68
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
94037 67
WINNER: Obama
 
Milwaukee Co., Colo.
Nonwhite population: 45.8%
Black: 27%
Hispanic: 13.6%
Asian: 3.6%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
170374 36
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
Cuyahoga Co., Ohio (Cleveland)
Nonwhite population: 38.7%
Black: 30%
Hispanic: 4.9%
Asian: 2.7%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
258340 39
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
236478 39
WINNER: Obama
 

 

High Hispanic Populations

COUNTY VICTORY MARGIN
Miami-Dade Co., Fla.
Nonwhite population: 84%
Black: 19.3%
Hispanic: 64.4%
Asian: 1.7%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
139280 16
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
203947 24
WINNER: Obama
 
El Paso, Texas
Nonwhite population: 86.3%
Black: 3.6%
Hispanic: 81.4%
Asian: 1.2%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
60238 32.4
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
55756 33
WINNER: Obama
 
Hudson, N.J.
Nonwhite population: 69.1%
Black: 15.1%
Hispanic: 42.4%
Asian: 14.2%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
98780 47
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
Kern Co., Calif.
Nonwhite population: 62.5%
Black: 6.3%
Hispanic: 50%
Asian: 4.7%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
41336 18
 
WINNER: McCain
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
35150 21
WINNER: Romney
 
Pueblo Co., Colo
Nonwhite population: 46.1%
Black: 2.4%
Hispanic: 41.6%
Asian: 1%
(Hover over state to see demographics)
2008 Votes 2008 % Points
10840 15
 
WINNER: Obama
2012 Votes 2012 % Points
--- ---
WINNER: ---
 
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