Jim Morrill and Gavin Off, in their Observer story and map this morning, showed the clear demographic changes that are hurting Edwin Peacock and other Republicans in Charlotte. Now Greg Weeks, the chairman of UNC Charlotte's political science department, makes an important addition to that analysis.
Weeks, who writes a Latin American politics blog, points out that the rising number of Hispanics in Charlotte will make local elections even more difficult for Republicans because Latinos tend to vote Democratic. He includes this map, which shows Hispanic births in 2009 were spread throughout Mecklenburg County, and were a significant part of the population growth in much of the city. (The darkest red reflects areas where Hispanic births were a quarter or more of the total.)
Weeks acknowledges that these kids won't be of voting age for another 14 years. But many of their parents are already citizens, and non-citizens, Weeks says, "will slowly naturalize, faster if immigration reform with some sort of amnesty with path of citizenship is passed."
Hispanics do not vote in huge numbers in Charlotte yet, but the numbers will continue to grow.
I wrote a column in Saturday's Observer that noted that non-Hispanic whites became a minority in Mecklenburg County last year. "You can embrace it or you can be terrified by it, but you can't deny it," I said. "Thanks to immigration and birth rates, our already-diverse community will become an increasingly multi-colored quilt."
Weeks is teaching the same thing to his students: "As I keep repeating to my class," he says on his blog, "it doesn't matter if you like or dislike this. It's just the way things are, and demographic shifts are going to have major political impacts."
-- Taylor Batten