Driven by the state’s Latino and African American populations, communities of color constitute a large and important segment of the Florida 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 Florida:
- Florida is one of the most diverse states in the nation. As of 2013, 23.6 percent of Floridians were Latino. African Americans made up 16.7 percent of the population, while Asians represented 2.7 percent. Non-Hispanic whites made up approximately 56.4 percent of the population, and 20 percent of Florida’s population were immigrants. According to the Immigration Policy Center, close to 50 percent of the immigrant population is eligible to vote, and approximately 86 percent of children of immigrants are U.S. citizens.
- People of color represent a large portion of the Florida electorate. Voters of color have significant political clout, accounting for approximately 34 percent of the state’s eligible voters. As of 2012, African Americans, Asians, and Latinos represented 14.4 percent, 2.7 percent, and 16.9 percent of eligible voters, respectively, while non-Hispanic whites comprised 65 percent. In Florida’s 2014 gubernatorial election—a race that is expected to be one of the nation’s tightest political contests—the combined electoral choices of people of color could determine the winner.
- A significant share of people of color in Florida are below age 18. According to the Census Bureau, 27 percent of Florida’s African American population is under age 18, while the same age group makes up only 16.1 percent of the state’s non-Hispanic white population. Among Florida’s Asians and Latinos, 21.1 percent and 25.3 percent of their respective populations are below age 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 Florida are integral to the state’s economy. Immigrants make up close to 25 percent of the state’s total workforce. Without the contribution of Florida’s undocumented immigrants, approximately $43.9 billion in economic activity would disappear. Latino and Asian residents command around $143.1 billion in buying power combined, while blacks command slightly more than $75 billion. According to the Census Bureau, 9 percent of Florida businesses are black owned, 22.4 percent are Latino owned, and 3.2 percent are Asian owned.
- In Florida, Latino voters overwhelmingly support a progressive policy agenda. A new poll released by the National Council of La Raza shows that 64 percent of Florida’s Latino voters support increasing the minimum wage, 94 percent support equal pay for women, and 78 percent support the state accepting federal funding for Medicaid.
Jamal Hagler is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050.