Black Migration and Demographic Shifts Are Impacting Political Maps

Black Migration and Demographic Shifts Are Impacting Political Maps

Demographic shifts are having varied affects on redistricting in different states, but they also offer Blacks and Latinos opportunities to form powerful coalitions.

Published June 30, 2011

African-Americans have migrated in significant numbers from the urban core to the suburbs and from large metropolitan parts of the North to the South in the past ten years. As states redraw political districts, the impact of their exodus is varied. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania will each lose congressional seats. Lawmakers in some Republican-controlled states have created redistricting maps that dilute minority voting power by trying to concentrate African-Americans in a contained area so they can influence the outcome in as few districts as possible. In others, minorities claim the lines being drawn don’t accurately reflect the demographic shifts that in a fair process would result in more minority lawmakers.


In 2008, Californians voted to spare themselves such conflicts and for the first time, an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw the new maps. To ensure that their voting power isn’t weakened, New America Media reports, grass-roots groups have made recommendations to the commission about how to keep minority communities intact. The African-American population in Los Angeles County has decreased from 9.8 percent to 8.7 percent and in the county that includes Oakland and San Francisco Bay areas, it has dropped from 14.9 percent to 12.6 percent.


But local activists told New America Media that Black migration will not dilute African-American voting power and that the population shift has been occurring over the past 20 years. In addition, when Blacks move away, very often Latinos and Asians who have “similar political interests” replace them.


In California, Texas, Florida and soon Georgia, whites are quickly losing their majority status in terms of numbers. Blacks and Latinos would do well to begin forming coalitions based on their shared interests to enhance their influence on those interests.


As David Bositis, senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told, “individually they have relatively little influence, but together they can accomplish a lot. And as the population change evolves, “they can in effect become the governing majority.”

Written by Joyce Jones


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