Monday, June 17, 2024

Hispanic Population Increases to Impact Congressional District Reapportionments

As the 2010 Census approaches, it is likely that the count of the U.S. population will confirm the continued growth of the nation’s largest minority population – Hispanics. The importance of this growth and what it means for congressional district reapportionments is becoming increasingly clear.

“The Latino electorate has been consistently increasing both their total number of voters as well as their share of the electorate,” Andres Ramirez, senior vice president and director of Hispanic programs at the think tank NDN, said Tuesday.

This increase is not exclusive to the states that border Mexico – it is being seen across the nation. “As this trend continues, it will be increasingly difficult for any candidate to win either a state or a national election without the support of Latino voters,” Ramirez said.

Many hope to translate these increasing numbers to more power in Congress. Hispanics currently hold only 5% of the seats in the House of Representative – 23 of the 435 members.

Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Arturo Vargas, explained that full participation in the 2010 Census by Latinos is incredibly important as these numbers are used to reapportion U.S. House seats. “This is the first census in which Latinos are the nation’s second-largest population group. The fact remains, that we cannot have a successful 2010 census without an accurate count of Latinos,” he said.

The consulting firm Election Data Services Inc. found that Texas is expected to gain four new congressional districts, primarily due to the increases in the Hispanic community. Arizona is expected to add two new districts to its current eight, bringing their total to ten. This state has also seen large increases in the Hispanic population – almost half of new Arizona residents since 2000 have been Hispanic. Florida too is expected to gain one new seat thanks to Hispanic population increases – primarily Puerto Ricans. Vargas believes that a Hispanic-influence district in central Florida could be created where the Puerto Rican community is growing.

Even in states that are expected to lose House seats, the number of Hispanics has grown.

“That means there are going to be more Hispanics spread out over a few number of seats. So their share, their percentage of representation in each district will increase, which will make them become more valuable to the members of Congress who have those seats,” Ramirez said.

Congressional Quarterly