Democrats Have Their Own Demographic Problem

Hopes for a Hispanic surge are running into a mathematical problem

While Democrats have held the White House for two straight elections, Republicans hold majorities in Congress, in state legislatures and in state governorships.

But Democrats are biding their time, predicting that the rapid growth of the Hispanic population will erode Republican majorities and will even hand them deep-red states like Texas.

Their plan may have just hit a pothole.

The Pew Research Center reports:

…a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds that the growth and dispersion of the U.S. Latino population has slowed since 2007, when the Great Recession started, immigration from Latin America cooled and Latino fertility rates began to fall.

 

Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. Hispanic population grew annually on average by 2.8% (its pace of growth has been an even slower 2.4% between 2010 and 2014). This was down from a 4.4% growth rate between 2000 and 2007 and down from 5.8% annually in the 1990s. As a result, the Hispanic population, once the nation’s fastest growing, has now slipped behind Asians (whose population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% from 2007 to 2014) in its growth rate.

Two factors are draining Hispanic growth rates.

For one, the numbers of native Mexicans leaving the United State for Mexico is now larger than the number of Mexicans immigrating to the United States.

“From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico, according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID),” Pew reported last November. “U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.”

With Hispanic immigration at a standstill, Democratic hopes for expanding their numbers among them relies on keeping a high birth rate.

But Hispanic birth rates are falling, too.

“Throughout much of the early 2000s birth rates of Hispanic women ages 15 to 44 were about 95 births per 1,000 women, reaching a peak of 98.3 in 2006,” Pew reports. “However, since the onset of the Great Recession, their birth rates have declined, steadily falling to 72.1 births per 1,000 Hispanic women ages 15 to 44 in 2014.”

That’s putting Democrats in a pinch.

They still enjoy an advantage over Republicans when it comes to demographic trends.

But the slowdown of immigration and birth rates is putting any impending Democrat takeovers on hold, theoretically taking the electoral votes of states like Texas and Arizona for several more elections.

And that gives Republicans more time to retool their appeal to Hispanic voters.

In most states, Hispanic voter identification favors Democrats by about 30 percent, Gallup reported in 2014.

But in Texas, where Republicans have put tremendous effort into courting Hispanics, the edge is only 19 percent.

Twenty-one percent of Hispanics nationwide identify as Republican. But in Texas, it’s 27 percent.

While 51 percent of Hispanics nationwide consider themselves Democrats, only 46 percent of Texas Hispanics do.

And the Texas Republican Party is no shrinking violet when it comes to border security, meaning the issue may have limited appeal to Hispanics.

That may add to the pressure Democrats face due to the slowdown of Hispanic growth.

If Democrats can’t add Hispanic voters quickly enough, and Hispanics begin to trend Republican, the party could lose the White House – its last remaining bastion of elected political power.