Ethnic change in Houston
Fri July 2, 2010 1:45 pm

Dr. Richard Murray, the University of Houston political scientist and TV commentator, recently posted on the Channel 13 Web site some numbers about population trends in Harris County.

The latest estimates show most of the growth in Texas and the Houston metro area is driven by the increasing number of Hispanic residents. Asians are also growing, but from a much smaller base population, and the African-American population is growing slightly faster than the total population. On the other hand, the non-Hispanic White population (Anglos), is growing at a far smaller rate than everybody else, so their percentage of the total population is dropping fast. Take Harris County, as an example. In 2000, 41.3% of the 3.4 million residents were Anglos. In 2009, the Census Bureau estimates the Anglo share at just 33.4. Meantime, Hispanics went from 32.9% of the county population in 2000 to 39.8% in 2009. This pattern is repeated in every county in the metro area. Anglo percentages are dropping, and Hispanic numbers are up.

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As political consultant Marc Campos has pointed out several times on his blog, Hispanic turnout in Harris County is very low, often single-digit. These population numbers aren't going to mean anything unless Hispanics begin to vote in greater numbers. Why they don't do so is a mystery, but the place to start is with the assumption that neither party is paying as much attention to these voters as they should be, so why should the voters pay attention? One party gives them lip service. The other wants to round them up and put them in jail. Eventually, a 15 point swing in ethnic population is going to affect how Harris County votes during the next decade.

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