WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Hispanic, black and Asian Americans – groups that gave 80 percent of their votes to President Obama in 2012 – are on track to become the majority of the nation’s population by 2050.
According to Pew Research Center estimates, these groups currently make up 37 percent of the country’s population, and they cast a record 28 percent of the votes in the 2012 presidential election. The forces behind this transformation are a mix of immigration, births and deaths. The United States is more than four decades into what has been, in absolute numbers, the biggest immigration wave in its history – more than 40 million arrivals.
But unlike previous waves that were almost entirely from Europe, the modern influx has been dominated by Hispanic and Asian immigrants.
By 2050, the Hispanic share of the U.S. population could be as high as 29 percent, up from 17 percent now. The black proportion of the population is projected to rise slightly to 13 percent, while the Asian share is projected to increase to 9 percent from its current 5 percent. Non-Hispanic whites, 63 percent of the current population, will decrease to half or slightly less than half of the population by 2050.
A lot of the growth is due to higher birth rates, as opposed to immigration itself.
Today’s immigrants, like those from previous centuries, tend to have higher shares of women of childbearing age and higher birth rates than the U.S.-born population. Most of the growth in the Latino population and much of the growth in the Asian population will be driven by births rather than immigration. At the same time, the native-born white population is aging, and births to white mothers have been declining.
The Pew Research population projection, first released in 2008, was based on the assumption that current trends would continue, including the immigration rates that had prevailed in recent decades. However, net immigration—especially unauthorized—has slowed since the Great Recession began in 2007.
The 28 percent representation of minorities in the 2012 electorate was up from 26 percent in 2008, according to the election exit polls. In 2008, voters from racial and ethnic minority groups also gave 80 percent of their votes to Obama.