Arizona’s Latino Vote

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The ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy has released a new report, “Arizona’s Emerging Latino Vote”, which focuses on the potential for Arizona’s young and growing Latino population to change the State’s political landscape over the next few decades. Learn more about the report from co-authors Bill Hart, a Morrison Institute senior policy analyst, and Dr. Eric Hedberg, a faculty associate in the ASU College of Public Programs.

Ted Simons: Arizona Latino voters could change the state's political landscape in coming decades according to a report released today by ASU's Morrison institute for public policy. It's titled Arizona's emerging Latino vote. Here are co-authors Bill Hart, senior policy analyst for the Morrison institute, and Eric Hedberg from the college of public programs. Thanks for joining us. Dramatic shift in Arizona's political landscape what. Does that mean?

Bill Hart: That means, the main driver of this report, and what we see as shape of politics in Arizona in the next few decades, is a large growth in the Latino population. A really fundamental demographic shift that's going on in Arizona as in some other states in which we have a large population of young Latinos who are gradually aging into the voter level age and we have a small and shrinking number of non-Hispanic white population.

Ted Simons: And as far as a time frame for this particular shift, is it slow and gradual? When do we see tangible results on what the study suggests?

Eric Hedberg: It is going to be slow and gradual. I would expect the balance of power to be reached by about 2030. I think as we get to 2030, we're going to see both parties start to realize what's happening and rearrange their positions.

Ted Simons: Does that change the goal posts as far as future projections are concerned? Politics so dynamic, difficult to project what's going to happen a couple decades down the line.

Eric Hedberg: politics is very dynamic but one thing as a sociology I'm trained to understand and realize is that world views and political opinions are heavily influenced by one's childhood. Since the main driver of this sea change are the children today who are citizens who are going to be voters, I think we can look at what's happening today and look towards the future.

Ted Simons: That's interesting you mention childhood and young people. You refer to this just a couple seconds ago, this Latino electorate while growing will also be in many respects growing older. That's a factor, isn't it?

Bill Hart: Right. That will probably presumably affect their political point of view. The big point, however, is again children and adolescents are such a large cohort of the population that as they grow, and we're assuming, now, that they will keep to traditional preferences. Latinos in America locally and nationally have typically voted democratic. Increasingly in recent years they seem to also be identifying as independents, so it's those two groups, particularly independents, as increasing in the future.

Ted Simons: How do you explain so far, we have heard a lot about the Latino electorate and we've also heard about how it seems under-represented come voting day. Come election day. Why does, again, the fact that the group as a whole gets older more likely to vote? Is that why you think the numbers would be --

Bill Hart: That's part of it. The main thing is the sheer size of the Latino population, however, I think you're right in that typically in general older people vote more -- register and vote more often than younger people. People of slightly higher incomes register and vote more than lower income people.

Ted Simons: As far as the data used, what was used and how were the projections formulated?

Eric Hedberg: We used the projection from Geolitics, a marketing and demographic company on the east coast. They use the standard demographic methodologies to project out based on past migration patterns and so forth. We combined that with census data, both from the American community survey to establish citizenship rates for each specific age group,and the 2010 current population survey voter and registration supplement.

Ted Simons: So taking those particular sets of metrics and such, how do you extrapolate, if I may be so bold, that information to I think a sentence in your report is dominating the political scene in a couple of decades or so. How do you get to that?

Eric Hedberg: When we say dominate the political scene, you're not talking in terms of a majority. We're talking about the key players that can shift the balance. Where the focus is going to be. Because they are going to come, because so many will be independent I think they will dominate in that they will be the Keystone.

Ted Simons: Talk about that independent vote again. We understand mostly Democrat right now. We don't know what's going to happen. we also see this independent voting block just exponentially increasing over the years. How does that play? Talk about that dynamic.

Bill Hart: It's increasing rapidly if you look at the registration levels officially over the last few years. It's growing, about the same as the Republicans or Democrats, which is a new phenomenon. How that will play out is very hard to say. It means that certainly Arizona will increasingly be in-play it seems. Not necessarily a red or blue state but a state that could go either way. I think that particularly could happen if the ballot proposition for this November for what they call the top two primary, if that is successful and is passed, that could drive up the independent numbers even more.

Ted Simons: You were talking about a couple of decades. Is this the kind of thing we could see something tangible come this November?

Eric Hedberg: This report is not going to go into specific immediate predictions. We're definitely talking long term. Actually I feel more comfortable talking about the long term than I do about the short term. But the important thing from this report is that this is going to be a source of political slack that different parties can use and take advantage of.

Ted Simons: As far as impact on public policies down the line? Pretty strong I would imagine.

Bill Hart: I think very strong. Again, the underlying point is this is based oon a demographic process that's not something we made up. It's not our opinion. It's not really contestable. It's going to happen. What the ramifications are for any party we're not sure, but it certainly needs to be recognized and responded to by everyone involved.

Ted Simons: And if anyone wants to read the report, find it on the Morrison institute website?

Bill Hart: Right.

Ted Simons: The address --

Bill Hart: Morrisoninstitute.ASU.EDU.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.

Bill Hart: Thank you.

Bill Hart:Senior Policy Analyst, Morrison Institute; Dr. Eric Hedberg:Faculty Associate, ASU College of Public Programs;

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