Archives for category: Latino

In light of several news articles that have reported the findings of a recent joint NCSL & PEW Report, “Who We Elect: The Demographics of State Legislatures,” I thought it might be useful to convey some points made by Dr. Carl Klarner regarding the inherent problem when comparing “average” state legislative racial and ethnic (and other socio-demographic data) with national averages.  As Klarner writes in his recent Report (p6),

“state level figures [should] always [be] weighted by state population when being averaged to the nation level. This is done to approximate the importance of a particular state legislative chamber….
The issue of weighting by population is especially relevant to assessing minority representation, as it makes a big difference. Reports of minority state legislators frequently state them as a percentage of all legislators in the country.17  It is also sometimes asserted that descriptive representation is lower in state legislatures than in the U.S. House. But it is important to take the varying size of state legislative districts into account. For example, there are currently 498 African-American state house members, or 9.2% of the 5,411 state house members in the United States. But African-American state house members actually represent 11.9% of the United States, if you factor in the size of the districts they represent. This is substantially closer to the 13.7% of the United States that is African-American.18  The simple reason for this is that Northeastern states, with unusually large state houses, have few African-Americans living in them. Looking at minority descriptive representation in this way gives us more insight into what types of electoral arrangements are conducive to the fair representation of racial minorities.”

I agree with Dr. Klarner. Weighting state legislators by population is essential when comparing national averages with minority representation across the 99 state legislative chambers.

According to the 2010-2014 5-year averages of the American Community Survey (ACS), conducted by the U.S. Census, African-Americans make up approximately 13.7% of the national population, Hispanics 16.9%, and Asians 5.9%.

According to Dr. Klarner, here are the percentages of current state legislators who are racial/ethnic minorities, unweighted v. weighted:

State House Members                   Unweighted                Weighted

  • African-American:                       9.2%                             11.9%
  • Latino                                           4.0%                               8.5%
  • Asians                                          1.5%                              2.3%

 

State Senators                                Unweighted                Weighted

  • African-American:                         8.3%                             10.1%
  • Latino                                           3.6%                               6.9%
  • Asians                                          1.7%                              1.9%

 

More later…

 

Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith, “Florida’s 2012 General Election under HB 1355: Early Voting, Provisional Ballots, and Absentee Ballots

Executive Summary
The 2012 General Election was the first major election in Florida held after the passage of House Bill 1355, a controversial election law that among other things reduced the early voting period in Florida and altered the requirements for casting provisional ballots.

By cutting early voting from 14 to eight days and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before the 2012 election, HB 1355 likely contributed to longer early voting lines at the polls, causing in‐person early voting turnout to drop by more than 225,000 voters compared to 2008.

The reduction in opportunities to vote early under HB 1355 disproportionately affected African American voters, insofar as nearly half of all blacks who voted in 2012 cast in‐person early ballots. Although blacks made up less than 14 percent of the Florida electorate as of November/December 2012, they cast 22 percent of all the early votes in 2012, roughly the same percentage as in 2008.

African Americans and Hispanic voters were more likely than white voters to cast provisional ballots and nearly twice as likely to have their provisional ballots rejected.

Quite possibly due to well‐founded fears of long lines at early voting and Election Day polling sites resulting from HB 1355, absentee ballots—a much less reliable form of voting a valid ballot—increased in 2012. Over 28 percent of all ballots cast in 2012 were absentee ballots, nearly six percentage points higher than in 2008. Almost one percent of these ballots were “rejected as illegal” in 2012 by county canvassing boards, and the African American absentee ballot rejection rate was nearly twice the absentee ballot rejection rate of white voters.

My colleague, Michael Herron at Dartmouth, and I have just finished crunching the 2012 General Election statewide voter file.

We’ll have lots to report in the coming days about the racial and ethnic voter participation in the November election, including statewide and county breakdowns for early voting and absentee voting. We’ll also have some data to report on the rejection rates of provisional ballots and absentee ballots  across racial and ethnic groups.

But for now, one item that caught my eye this morning was the considerable inflation of supposed Latino voter participation in the 2012 General Election.

According to the 2012 CNN General Election Exit Polls for Florida, (a screen shot is here: Florida2012ExitPoll), Florida’s electorate was:

67% White

13% African American

17% Latino

Further analysis of the Florida exit polls conducted by the Pew Research Hispanic Center immediately after the election, “Latino Voters in the 2012 Election,” found that “Hispanics made up a growing share of voters in three of the key battleground states in yesterday’s election.” According to the report, “Hispanics made up 17% of the Florida electorate this year, up from 14% in 2008.”  The Pew Report continued:

The state’s growing non-Cuban population—especially growth in the Puerto Rican population in central Florida—contributed to the president’s improved showing among Hispanic voters. This year, according to the Florida exit poll, 34% of Hispanic voters were Cuban while 57% were non-Cuban. Among Cuban voters, the vote was split—49% supported Obama while 47% supported Romney. Among the state’s non-Cuban voters, Obama won 66% versus 34% for Romney.

Yet, when matched against the Florida Division of Election’s December 31, 2012 voter file, our analysis suggests that the 2012 exit poll estimates considerably over-inflate the actual Latino makeup Florida’s 2012 electorate.

In 2012, roughly 8.43 million Floridians cast ballots in the General Election.

According to our analysis of the state’s voter history file, a little more than 1 million citizens who self-identified on their voter registration cards as Latino voted in the 2012 election.  That’s only 12.5% of Florida’s 2012 electorate.

In contrast, nearly 14% of Florida’s 2012 actual electorate was African American, close to a full percentage point greater than the exit poll estimates.  White voters were similarly under-represented in the exit poll estimates, as slightly more than 68% of Florida’s 2012 electorate was white.  (Incidentally, Floridians who voted in the 2012 General Election and who identified as “Other” or “Multi-racial” on their voter registration cards tallied less than 2% of the vote in 2012.)

For now, I will leave it for others to interrogate why the 2012 Exit Polls considerably over-inflated Latino turnout in Florida, but I have some suspicions that I will offer down the road as time permits.

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