The electoral translation of Latino power
By Héctor De León
In the fourth largest city in the United States, the Hispanic population increased by 264% and today 31% of those of voting age are Latinos. An electoral power that will be irrepressible.

For the first time in Houston's history, Hispanics will comprise the second largest voting eligible population in the upcoming 2023 mayoral election. According to the 2017-2021 American Community Survey (ACS) released in the fall of 2022, Hispanics now make-up 31% of the Citizen Voting Age population (CVAP), whites 33%, Blacks 28%, and Asians 7%. The question is: Does anybody know and does anyone care?

This news would merit a headline if not for the fact that Hispanics have been a sizable portion of Houston's population since the US Census Bureau incorporated the term "Hispanic" into the Census' decennial questionnaire. In 1980, Hispanics comprised 18% of the city's population. In 1990, it jumped to 28%. In 2000, it increased to 37%. In 2010, it was 44%. And, in 2020, it totaled 45%. From 1980 to 2020, the Census shows the Hispanic population growing by 264%, from 281,331 to 1,024,742. During the same period, the white population decreased by 33%, from 834,061 to 554,973. The Black population grew by only 19%, from 436,392 to 520,431. And the Asian population increased by 357%, from 34,359 to 156,590.

Yet for Hispanics and Asians, unlike whites and Blacks, the age and citizenship status of the population have impeded it from directly translating into electoral power. US Census Bureau data quantify the fluidity of the variables impacting the size of the Hispanic electorate. For example, the 2007-2011 ACS shows that 30% of Hispanics were under 18 years of age, compared to 16% of whites, 24% of Blacks and 17% of Asians. It also showed that only 57% of Hispanic adults were citizens, compared to 94% of whites and Blacks and 63% of Asians,. Similarly, the 2017-2021 ACS shows 33% of Hispanics were under 18 years of age, compared to 15% of whites, 26% of Blacks and 19% of Asians. It also shows that only 49% of Hispanic adults were citizens, compared to 95% of whites, 96% of Blacks and 58% of Asians.

La continua agonía del poder blanco

The deficit between the Hispanic population and citizen voting age population created by the under 18 years of age population and the non-citizen adult population reveal that the early rosy pronouncements regarding the electoral possibilities of the Hispanic population explosion made by stakeholders were premature and impossible to fulfill. 

From 1980 to 2020, the Census shows that the Hispanic population grew by 264%, from 281,331 to 1,024,742. During the same period, the white population decreased by 33%, from 834,061 to 554,973.

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau did not begin surveying the Citizen Voting Age Population by Race until the new millennium. As a result, data that may have helped stakeholders understand the nuanced challenges presented by the growing Hispanic population were not readily available in a manner that provided clarity. That is, the discrepancies between the Hispanic population and CVAP evidenced in the American Community Surveys published after the 2000 Census suggest Hispanics may have comprised merely 9% or less of the eligible voter population in 1981 and 14% or less in 1991 at the time the Census showed the Hispanic population to be twice those numbers.

"Si los partidos no movilizan el voto hispano joven, hoy no hay forma de ganar una elección"

This lack of clarity led to unrealistic electoral expectations, which were exacerbated by the stakeholders continuous use of the "Sleeping Giant" metaphor. Intended to underline the emergence of the Hispanic community at the end of the 1900s, the term has evolved into an empty derogatory trope that unwittingly stereotypes Hispanics as a disengaged non-voting population.

The latest US Census Bureau data continues to be a perpetual double-edged sword. It shows that the Hispanic voting age population will not be equal to the Hispanic population any time soon. Still, it shows that the immense growth of Houston's Hispanic population in the last four decades is now manifested in a significant Hispanic Citizen Voting Age Population, which has grown from 23% to 31% since the initial American Community Survey release at the end of 2010.

Simply said, despite the issues wrought by the age and citizenship status of Hispanics as calculated by the Census Bureau, the CVAP data indicates an inevitability: In the near future, Hispanics are poised to be the largest eligible VOTER population in the fourth largest city in the nation. This is news that should not be dismissed by anyone who wishes to lead it whether in 2024 or beyond.

Post a comment
To submit your comment, you must confirm that you have read and accepted the terms regulation and LPO conditions
The comments published are the sole responsibility of their authors and the consequences derived from them may be subject to the corresponding legal sanctions. Any user who includes any comment in violation of the terms and conditions regulation in their messages will be eliminated and disabled to comment again.
Más de Héctor De León

El mensaje de Maquiavelo a Biden

By Héctor De León
Quinientos años después, una máxima maquiavélica persiste y afecta la candidatura del presidente. El impacto de las imágenes a la hora de votar.

La continua agonía del poder blanco

By Héctor De León
En el tercer condado más grande del país, los republicanos perdieron casi 30 puntos en 20 años. Datos contundentes: los blancos pesan menos y las minorías representan el 60% del electorado.

La traducción electoral del poder latino

By Héctor De León
En la cuarta ciudad más grande de Estados Unidos, la población hispana aumentó un 264% y hoy el 31% de los que están en edad de votar son latinos. Un poder electoral que será incontenible.

Machiavelli's message to Biden

By Héctor De León
After five hundred years, a Machiavellian maxim persists and affects the candidacy of the president. The impact of images when voting.

The ongoing agony of white electoral power

By Héctor De León
In the nation's third-largest county, Republicans have lost nearly 30 points in 20 years. Hard data: whites weigh less and minorities represent 60% of the electorate.