Factoid: Black State Legislators in 2009

There are now a record 628 African Americans in the legislatures of the 50 states, according to the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year there were 622 Africans Americans state legislators.

A list with the count of African Americans in each state legislature is at the web site for the Conference of State Legislatures. I have prepared this edited version of the list:

Count and Percentage of Black State Legislators, 2009 (Sorted by Percentage of Blacks in the Legislature {% of Total Seats})

Some comments:

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The Color of the Young Vote, 2008

In the previous blog entry, we mentioned that Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, expressed his desire to see more people of color represented within the Republican Party. Steele made this statement at a meeting of Florida Republicans. At the same meeting, Jim Greer, Florida’s party chairman, said that the party would focus on using technology to invigorate younger Republicans.

The folowing charts help to explain why Republicans might be concerned about ethnic and age diversity within their party. These are from the Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet, which was prepared by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

This first chart is not elegant aesthetically, but it makes a powerful point about the ethnic make-up of voters in the November elections. The chart shows the ethnicity of the electorate, broken-out by different age groups.

Source: Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet

I know this is redundant, but let me go over the numbers on the above chart:
• For voters who are 60 years old or more, the ethnic composition of the vote was 85% white, 8% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 45-59, the ethnicity was 80% white, 12% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 30-44, the ethnicity was 72% white, 15% black, and 7% Hispanic
• For voters aged 18-29, the ethnicity was 64% white, 19% black, and 11% Hispanic

What we’re seeing is that the under-30 population has become more ethnically diverse than older age groups. Whites are a smaller portion of the electorate, while the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics is growing.

The problem for Republicans is that African Americans and Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats. The following chart shows the percentage of people who voted for Obama in the November elections, by ethnicity and age-group:

Source: Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet

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Biggest Gainers and Losers: Black Interstate Migration in 2007

The Pew Research Center web site has prepared an excellent presentation showing population migration patterns in the United States. The presentation shows which states are gaining and losing population, and provides detailed information at the ethnic group level.

The Pew report has migration information that goes back to 1975-80, but for this blog entry, I am focusing on 2007. The following table shows net migration information that year, which is taken from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Net Interstate Migration for Selected States in 2007.
Source: Pew Research Center: COMINGS & GOINGS: Migration Flows in the U.S.
Note: This does not show numbers for Asian Americans or Native Americans.

There’s lots of interesting stuff here. The biggest black population gains are in Georgia, Texas, and the Southeast. The biggest losses are in New York, Louisiana, California, and the industrial Midwest. Here are a few comments.

• Georgia continues to be the biggest magnet for black migrators. The Atlanta area has been growing by leaps and bounds, and now sends three African Americans to the US Congress.

The influx of blacks could have political implications on a state-wide level. Last November, many were surprised when Barack Obama got 47% of the state’s vote in the presidential election, despite not doing much in the way of campaigning or advertising. Georgia is close to being 30% black, and the black folks here – especially in the Atlanta area – are politically active.

Georgia is not an unlikely place for a black governor or senator, if the right person comes along. Twelve-year Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who is African American, has announced that he’s in the race for governor’s seat in 2010. I don’t know if he’s the right person, but he is in it at least.

• The huge black migrations to Texas and from Louisiana are the result of the same thing: Hurricane Katrina. Katrina depopulated huge swaths of the New Orleans area, and many former residents moved to Houston, Dallas/Ft Worth, and eastern Texas.

The large population loss in Louisiana will probably mean that the state will lose a congressional seat following the 2010 Census. There have already been discussions about how to handle the state’s majority black congressional district, which is centered around New Orleans. That area was represented for years by former congressman William Jefferson. The current congressman there is Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, who is first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress.

Some have suggested creating a new district that will combine the black neighborhoods of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. That would preserve a black majority district, but it would remove Democrats from surrounding districts, and make it easier for Republicans to win the state’s other congressional seats.

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Factoid: African American Million Man and Woman States

States with 1 Million or More African Americans

The Census Bureau estimates that in 2007, the United States had an African American population of 38,756,452. The total US population was estimated at 301,621,157. African Americans are 12.8% of the US population.

Blacks are the nation’s second largest minority. Hispanics are the largest minority. They number 45,504,311, and are 15.1% of the US population.

The count of African Americans (38,756,452) only includes those who identify themselves as African American. The Census Bureau now allows persons to be identified as multiracial. The Census Bureau estimates that there are 1,987,680 persons who are multiracial and have some African American heritage.

When multiracial persons are included, the count of African Americans comes to 40,744,132, which is 13.5% of the population.

85% of African Americans (not including multiracial persons) reside in just 18 states, all of which have at least a million black residents:

Almost 9% of all African Americans reside in New York state. Half of all African Americans reside in eight states: New York, Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, North Carolina, Illinois, and Maryland.

This table shows the change in the share of African American residents for the million person states since 2000:

The black reverse migration phenomenon we hear about is not so much a move from the north to the south, but rather a move to Florida, Georgia, and Texas from just about everywhere else, at least in this decade. Those three states have a higher share of the black population than they had in 2000.

Illinois, Michigan and Louisiana (thanks to Hurricane Katrina) have lost the most “black share,” but several southern states (Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina) have lost share as well.

35 of the 41 black members in the House of Representatives come from the 18 sates with a million African American residents (note, this doesn’t include the delegates from the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands):
New York: 4 African American Congressmen
Florida: 3
Georgia: 4
Texas: 3
California: 4
North Carolina: 2
Illinois: 3
Maryland: 2
Virginia: 1
Michigan: 2
Ohio: 1
Louisiana: 1
Pennsylvania: 1
South Carolina: 1
New Jersey: 1
Alabama: 1
Mississippi: 1