Driven by the state’s Latino population, communities of color are a large and important segment of the Colorado electorate. The impact of these communities is felt not only through their population growth but also through their economic contributions and electoral clout. As the 2014 midterm election approaches, there are several key facts to keep in mind regarding these growing and dynamic communities in Colorado:
- In Colorado, a large share of the population consists of people of color.As of 2013, Latino Coloradans made up approximately 21 percent of the state’s population. African Americans made up 4.4 percent of the population, while Asians represented 3 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic whites made up approximately 69.4 percent of the population, while 10 percent of Colorado’s population were immigrants. Approximately 36 percent of the current immigrant population is eligible to vote, and more than 87 percent of children of immigrants are U.S. citizens.
- People of color represent a large portion of the Colorado electorate. Latino voters have significant political clout, making up 14 percent of the state’s eligible voters. Black and Asian voters account for much smaller shares of eligible voters at 3.5 percent and 2.7 percent respectively. In the 2014 Colorado Senate race, polls currently predict the margin of victory to be between 1 percent and 4 percent. The 2010 race for Senate in Colorado was close; slightly more than 15,000 votes separated Sen. Michael Bennet (D), the winner, from his Republican challenger. Bennet’s ability to capture around 81 percent of the state’s Latino vote in 2010 was key to his victory. The Latino vote is sure to be pivotal in 2014 as well.
- A significant share of people of color in Colorado are below the age of 18. According to the Census Bureau, 34.9 percent of Colorado’s Latino population is under the age of 18, while the same age group only makes up 19.3 percent of the state’s white population. Among Colorado’s African Americans and Asian Americans, 25 percent and 23 percent of their respective populations are under the age of 18. People of color’s share of the electorate has the potential to grow as these younger populations reach voting age.
- Communities of color in Colorado are integral to the state’s economy. As of 2011, 11.4 percent of the state’s workers were immigrants. Undocumented immigrants in Colorado contribute around $8 billion in economic activity that would disappear if they were deported. Latino and Asian residents command close to $28.4 billion in combined buying power, while blacks command more than $10 billion. According to the Census Bureau, approximately 1.7 percent of businesses in Colorado are black-owned, 2.6 percent of businesses are Asian-owned, and 6.2 percent of businesses are Latino-owned.
- In Colorado, key issues for the electorate include the economy and immigration. A recent Latino Decisions poll found that the top issues among Latino voters this election cycle are immigration and the economy. Furthermore, polling shows that 70 percent of the Colorado Latino electorate is more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage.
Jamal Hagler is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050.