If the eventual 2012 GOP presidential nominee wants to win in the Sun Belt battleground states, that individual will need to appeal to America’s growing Hispanic population.
In a surprising show of growth, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase over the last decade, exceeding estimates in most states. Pulled by migration to the Sun Belt, America’s population center edged westward on a historic path to leave the Midwest.
Racial and ethnic minorities are expected to make up an unprecedented 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, due to immigration and higher birth rates for Latinos.
Based on 2010 census data that has been released so far on a state-by-state basis, the number of Hispanics is now at roughly 47 million with figures for New York, Maine and the District of Columbia to come later Thursday. The 2009 census data estimated the Hispanic count in those places at over 3 million, putting Hispanics on track to exceed 50 million. Demographers widely believe the 50 million threshhold will be reached, with a total count close to 50.5 million.
Currently the fastest growing group, Hispanics now comprise 1 in 6 Americans; among U.S. children, Hispanics are roughly 1 in 4.