Driven by the state’s African American and Latino citizens, communities of color are a large and important segment of the Georgia 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 Georgia:
- In Georgia, a large share of the population consists of people of color. As of 2013, black Georgians made up approximately 31.4 percent of the state’s population. Latinos made up 9.2 percent of the population, while Asians represented 3.7 percent of the population. Non-Hispanic whites made up approximately 54.8 percent of the population, while 10 percent Georgia’s population were immigrants. According to the Immigration Policy Center, approximately 40 percent of the immigrant population is eligible to vote, and more than 84 percent of children of immigrants are U.S. citizens.
- People of color represent a large portion of the Georgia electorate. Black voters have significant political clout, making up 30.6 percent of the state’s eligible voters. While Asian American and Latino voters are much smaller shares of eligible voters at 2.9 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, those voters are bound to see their shares of the electorate increase as demographics continue to shift.
- A significant share of people of color in Georgia are below the age of 18. According to the Census Bureau, 37 percent of Georgia’s Latino population is under the age of 18, while the same age group only makes up 20 percent of the state’s white population. Among Georgia’s African Americans and Asian Americans, 27 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 Georgia are integral to the state’s economy. As of 2011, 13 percent of the state’s workers were immigrants. Furthermore, as of 2010, 7 percent of the state’s workers were undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants in Georgia contribute around $21.3 billion in economic activity that would disappear if they were deported. Latino and Asian residents command close to $30 billion in buying power combined, while blacks command more than $75 billion. Additionally, according to the Census Bureau, 20.4 percent of businesses in Georgia are black-owned, 5.1 percent of businesses are Asian-owned, and 3.6 percent of businesses are Latino-owned.
- In Georgia, key issues for the electorate include expanding Medicaid, as well as raising the minimum wage. Recent polling shows that 56 percent of potential voters support a minimum-wage increase to $10 dollars per hour, while only 38 percent oppose it. This issue is especially important to people of color, who represented 42 percent of minimum-wage workers nationally despite making up only 32 percent of the total workforce. Furthermore, polling shows that 56 percent of voters in Georgia support Medicaid expansion, while only 33 percent oppose it. Medicaid expansion is particularly important to people of color, as they are more likely than their white counterparts to be uninsured.
Jamal Hagler is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050.