demographics
07
Jan

Moving beyond assumptions, Latino edition

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We’re always happy to report on multicultural research that someone else has done, especially when they’ve done it right. That is, a report that’s not just strung together observations and assumptions.

Gabriel Acevedo, sociology professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, told the Texas Standard radio show that political scientists and strategists to marketers, when trying to figure out how to reach Latinos don’t actually ASK Latinos directly about their preferences. And not surprisingly that leads to a pile of misconceptions. Acevedo just released the report “Latinos in America” based on responses from 2,500 self-identified Hispanic Latinos, and learned some things that marketers and demographers ought to know. And he did it by asking questions. Some of the key takeaways from the survey squash some myths – though surely not myths that those familiar with New American Dimensions hold – including:

- Evangelicals are not just suburban white Americans or rural Southern Americans. Rather, the highest share of self-proclaimed evangelicals is actually found among Latinos, not whites. The survey found that, while Latinos are still majority Catholic, a large and growing contingent are evangelicals.

- Dispelling the notion that White Americans are conservative, African Americans and Latinos are liberal, Acevedo found that many Latinos’ political support is up for grabs. They are not committed to either party.

The biggest conclusion, Acevedo told Texas Standard is that “Hispanic’ is a complicated term. I see many of you nodding your head in agreement.

“We know that, for instance, Cuban Americans in parts of South Florida, parts of New Jersey, are much more conservative Republican than maybe Puerto Rican Latinos living in New York City. That diversity within the Hispanic Latino community also gives this political diversity.” 

Acevedo added that Latinos, not unlike other American groups, tend to align their social and political views according to age cohort. That is, on hot button issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control, Latino millennials are more likely to hold progressive views than their parents. Not shocking, of course, but you would be surprised at how many marketers are surprised by findings like this.

One thing the survey didn’t account for was generational status. That is, whether being first, second, or third generation affects the views of Hispanic Americans. But New American Dimensions has covered that topic. Nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion now and then.

(Photo credit: KUT)

07
Jan

Fears of a Non-White Majority

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By now it’s clear that the current administration has whipped up fears – that were already there lurking under the surface – and, anger – about the decline of whites as a percentage of the U.S. population (and, by extension, the decline of white’s perceived cultural power). Witness that two weeks ago, just as Trump’s “fixer,” Michael Cohen, fingered his boss as an co-conspirator in a crime to get elected, the President’s fixation was about the Criminal Mexicans – his favorite refrain – coming across the border to kill white people. It just so happened that as Cohen was singing, it was learned that an undocumented worker had killed a woman in Iowa. Guess which was the top story on Fox news that week?

A New York Times opinion piece by the fantastic Thomas Edsall suggests that the rise of Trumpism came along at just the time when projections showed a declining white majority and a rising non-white population (the way these are phrased are important in how threatened people feel about these demographic changes, as it turns out).

Some of those I contacted suggested that only Trump and his fellow Republicans have the power to change the anti-immigrant, anti-minority tone of the political conversation. Nathan Kalmoe, a political scientist at Louisiana State University, argued, for example, that

“Politicians and other opinion leaders play an important role in helping citizens make sense of the threats and opportunities they face. I expect the views of many white Americans would shift if President Trump and other leaders who deploy ethnonationalist messages collectively changed their tune, at least in terms of attitude intensity and priority.”

In the highly unlikely event that that happened, “prejudices wouldn’t vanish, but they would be less politically potent for most people.” More realistically, Kalmoe wrote, “as long as prominent leaders continue to mobilize white fear and anger on the issue, citizens who trust them will follow.”

Having a leader with a more inclusive – and less incendiary – view of race and demographic changes in the U.S. would help to mitigate some of the anti-immigrant and anti-white animosity, but it wouldn’t completely erase it (Edsall doesn’t say that it would). It’s a problem we’ve been bumping up against for the entire history of what we call the U.S.

Edsall also surveys many other academics regarding demographic changes in the U.S., covering issues such as who identifies as white – a growing number of people with mixed heritage think of themselves as white – and whether the U.S. Census binary non-Hispanic white-minority division may be stoking the anxieties of whites fearful of a majority-minority America.

The bottom line is what I’ve been expressing for years: America has a race problem. What we’ve learned in the past three years is, a leader who tells white Americans “the other” coming to kill their daughters, take their jobs, take their prestige, only makes the problem worse.

Regarding the Iowa woman who was murdered, Mollie Tibbits, the family is fed up with anti-immigrant mouthpieces using her daughter’s murder to score political points, calling them “heartless and despicable” and racist. Where’s the reporting on that, Fox News?

05
Jan

Study: many whites voted for Trump for his embrace of whiteness

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Trump voters

Trump supporters: white and afraid of losing their majority (wikipedia commons)

 

For the past year and a half, there’s been a vigorous, sometimes tortured, effort to answer the question of how the election of Trump happened. Let’s forget for a minute that Hillary Clinton actually won 3 million more votes. She’s not sitting in the oval office.

It’s been posited that it was economic anxiety among rust belt voters that led so many Ohioans, Michiganders, Wisconsinites and Pennsylvanians to vote for Trump and deliver him an electoral college victory. The theory goes, he’ll bring back jobs by… doing something. Like tariffs, which he’s done. And… doing deals (he never was very specific about how he was going to bring back jobs, was he?)

We’ve also been told that voters wanted a change in Washington, drain the swamp as it were. Try not to laugh, given what you know about the D.C. swamp, which has become a nationally protected wetland with extra alligators since January, 2017. But maybe some people did believe that Crooked Hillary line. Surely many people just hate Washington, and having some other guy in there – a businessman, sports figure, singer, whatever – would do the nation good.

What a lot of mainstream pundits have tap danced around is what many of us have suspected: many whites voted for Trump because of his pretty explicit embrace of white nationalism.

Well, now there’s a study that backs up what we’ve been thinking. A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a segment – though not all, but hey, he only lost three key states by 80,000 votes – were motivated to protect their own dominant status in American culture and politics. Make America Great Again, for some, meant Make America White Again.

The study looked at a group of the same voters who cast ballots in 2012 and 2016, focusing on those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. Many of these voters, instead of expressing pocketbook fears, showed deep concern about America’s declining global power and – this is key – about the projected demographic changes that will put whites out of the majority by 2045.

 

The study’s author, Diana Muntz, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, found that one factor in particular increased the likelihood of voting for Trump: the belief that white people are more discriminated against than people of color. Mutz also found that the people who switched their vote from Democrat to Republican liked Trump’s aggressive stance on free trade and China’s ascendance as a global superpower. And they wanted group hierarchy, not equality, with their group on top.

So, remember that escalator speech where Trump announced his candidacy, the one where he said Mexicans coming into the country were rapists and murders? Turns out he knew his base pretty well. Or, maybe, he created this base. After all, no major nominee of any party has been so openly bigoted.

Now that naked bigotry is out in the open – and, sadly, growing – how do we as a nation deal with what has been unleashed? It’s a pretty good time for a real conversation on race. Unfortunately the one with the biggest megaphone and tiniest twitter fingers is the one setting the agenda. For now.

 

07
Jan

Higher middle-aged white deaths = Trump support

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Whitedeath3

 

Here’s another political post, though really the interesting part is about the demographics of death in the U.S.

The immediate story is that Donald Trump’s margins of victory in the primary elections have been highest in states where the rate of deaths among middle-aged white Americans is going up. According to the Washington Post:

We’re focusing on middle-aged whites because the data show that something has gone terribly wrong with their lives. In a study last year, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton pointed out that mortality rates for this group have actually been increasing since the ’90s.

That fact becomes more alarming when you look at the context. Over the past decade, Hispanic people have been dying at a slower rate; black people have been dying at a slower rate; white people in other countries have been dying at a slower rate.

What’s most interesting, from a demographic perspective, is why  death rates for middle-aged whites are going up. The study mentioned by the Washington Post didn’t point definitively to any causes, but the researchers suggested  that alcohol abuse, suicides and the opioid epidemic have something to do with it.

The rate of fatal “poisonings” for instance — a category that includes drug overdoses — more than tripled among middle-aged whites since 2000.

Good grief. So that Make America Great Again slogan, to some ears might be “Help Us White People Stop Dying So Fast.” Doesn’t make a great bumper sticker though.

For more information on the demographic study showing higher middle-aged white deaths in the U.S., go here.

 

08
Jan

White Americans angrier than Black Americans

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Here’s a survey that should take a bite out of the persistent meme that blacks are the Angriest Americans. American Rage, a survey commissioned by NBC and Esquire magazine, showed that whites and Republicans are the angriest Americans.

In a response to the question “About how often do you hear or read something in the news that makes you angry?” 73 percent of whites said they get angry at least once a day, in contrast to 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

Seventy-seven percent of Republicans also said they get angry at least once a day, compared to 67 percent of Democrats. Fifty-two percent of Americans said the American Dream “once held true but does not anymore.” Thirty-nine percent think that race relations have become worse since President Obama was elected.

From Esquire:

Indeed, despite having what many would consider a more legitimate case for feeling angry, black Americans are generally less angry than whites. Though they take great issue with the way they are treated by both society in general and the police in particular, blacks are also more likely than whites to believe that the American dream is still alive.

There are some other seemingly contradictory findings about demographics and views of Black Americans:

- Blacks are more likely than whites and Hispanics to think that the American Dream still holds true.
- Blacks are more likely to think that the recent killings of African American men by police are part of a larger pattern in the police’s treatment of African Americans.

Read more about the methodology here.