Key Facts to Know About Communities of Color in Kansas Before the 2014 Midterm Elections
Part of a Series
Driven by the state’s Latino and Asian populations, communities of color are a growing and important segment of the Kansas 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 Kansas:
- In Kansas, a growing share of the population consists of people of color. White non-Hispanics make up the large majority of Kansans, but communities of color—particularly Latino communities—are growing in size. While the African American population stayed relatively constant between 2000 and 2010 at about 5 percent, the Latino population in Kansas during that same time period jumped from approximately 7 percent to a little more than 10 percent. The Asian population grew from 2.1 percent to almost 3 percent over the same time span. Immigrants account for approximately 7 percent of Kansas’ population, with close to 34 percent of immigrants eligible to vote. Moreover, almost 88 percent of the children of immigrants are U.S. citizens.
- People of color represent a growing and ever more important portion of the Kansas electorate. The 2014 Senate race in Kansas is one of the nation’s closest contests this election cycle. While communities of color do not currently make up large portions of the Kansas electorate, the cumulative votes of these communities carry growing political clout. Recent polling shows the Senate race to be neck and neck, with less than 1 percentage point separating the candidates. Non-Hispanic whites make up approximately 89 percent of eligible voters in Kansas, while black, Asian, and Latino voters respectively represent 5.2 percent, 1.3 percent, and 5.4 percent of eligible voters in the state.
- A significant share of people of color in Kansas are below age 18. According to the Census Bureau, 39.5 percent of Kansas’ Latino population is under age 18, while the same age group makes up only 21.8 percent of the state’s white population. Among Kansas’ black and Asian Americans, 27.4 percent and 23.7 percent of their respective populations are under 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 Kansas are integral to the state’s economy. In Kansas, Latinos and Asians command close to $9.8 billion in combined buying power, while blacks command a little more than $6.5 billion. As of 2011, 8.6 percent of the state’s workers were immigrants. Without the contributions of undocumented immigrants, Kansas’ economic activity would be reduced by $1.8 billion. According to the Census Bureau, as of 2007, approximately 2.4 percent of businesses in Kansas were black owned, 2 percent of businesses were Asian owned, and 2.4 percent of businesses were Latino owned.
- In Kansas, education funding is a key issue for the electorate. A recent Survey USA poll shows that the most important issue to likely voters in Kansas is education, followed by the economy. In Kansas, where close to 95 percent of children attend public schools, recent cuts to education funding are a critical issue. Education funding is particularly important to children of color in Kansas because they disproportionately struggle in school. As of 2013, 83 percent of black fourth graders and 80 percent of Latino fourth graders were unable to read at grade level, compared with 62 percent of fourth graders overall.
Jamal Hagler is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050.
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