October 1995, Volume 1, Number 4
Population and Politics
Some pundits assert that the most important political dynamic in
California and the southwest is the gap between population shares and
political power shares. This dynamic may spread across rural America
as a result of the "Latinization" of farm work.
In Imperial County, which is 70 percent Latino, all five members
of the Board of Supervisors were white in the summer of 1995. In many
rural communities, suits have been brought to switch from at-large
voting to district voting, so that, it is thought, Latinos will be
elected from largely Hispanic sections of cities and counties.
On June 29, the US Supreme Court held 5-4 that the voting
districts drawn with the race of residents as the "predominant
factor" in constructing them were unconstitutional.
The Census Bureau reported in October that three of the four
fastest growing metro areas in the US are along the US-Mexican
border. Between 1990 and 1994, the population of Laredo, Texas grew
by 22 percent, the population of McAllen, Texas by 20 percent, and
the population of Yuma, Arizona by 19 percent.
About 80 percent of all US residents live in one of the nation's
271 metro areas.
The US Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether the 1990
Census should be adjusted to make up for an admitted undercount.
An adjustment would be most beneficial to states like Texas and
California with heavy immigrant and minority populations. The federal
government relies on the census to determine population-based federal
The Bush administration decided not to adjust the census, arguing
that any adjustment formula would result in an even more inaccurate
count. The census bureau estimates that it undercounted Blacks,
Hispanics and American Indians by about five percent, and missed more
than three percent of the Asian Americans.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently
found that whites live 14.3 years longer than blacks and 11.2 years
longer than Hispanics. The large discrepancy between whites and
minorities is attributed to poverty and high risk behavior, rather
than access to medical care or genetics.
Hispanics are four times more likely to live in poverty than
whites, and blacks are 12 times more likely to be murdered. As
incomes rise for blacks and Hispanics, the life span discrepancies
"Hispanic Population Swelling in US during '90s," Miami Herald,
October 6, 1995. Aaron Epstein, "Undercounting of minorities to go
before Supreme court, Austin American-Statesman, September 28, 1995.
William Clayton, Jr., "High court to hear 1990 census case," Houston
Chronicle, September 28, 1995. Bill Scanlon, "Life span discrepancy
increases," Rocky Mountain News, August 7, 1995.