Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Southern states like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee have large shares of African Americans who are likely to favor Clinton at the polls.
This year, 31 percent of the American electorate consists of Hispanic, Asian, and African Americans, as well as other races. That’s a higher share of minorities who are eligible to vote than ever before in U.S. history. This diversity comes through in a new chart from the Pew Research Center, which uses census data to present a one-stop demographic profile of voters in the Super Tuesday states:
The biggest takeaway here is that the large black populations in Southern states are going to play a huge role in the outcomes of the caucuses and primaries for the Democratic party on Tuesday. In five out of the 12 states, blacks account for at least 15 percent of the electorate. Georgia leads this list with 31 percent black voters, followed by Alabama (26 percent), Virginia (19 percent), Tennessee (16 percent), and Arkansas (15 percent).
In absolute numbers, blacks in these states far outweigh other influential minority groups, such as Hispanics and Asians. Georgia, for example, has 2.2 million black voters, compared with just 291,000 Hispanic and 179,000 Asian voters, according to Pew.
Black populations in Southern states have been rising at twice the speed of states elsewhere in the country since 1990. This demographic shift reflects how African Americans, who headed north during the Great Migration of the 20th century, have been moving back to prosperous Southern cities in recent years.
Hispanics will play a larger role in Texas and Colorado: 28 percent of the 17.2 million eligible voters in Texas are Hispanic, while in Colorado they make up 15 percent. Of the remaining states, Vermont and Minnesota overwhelmingly consist of white voters—95 percent and 88 percent, respectively. Alaska is unique with 13 percent of its electorate made up of Native Americans.
Blacks and Hispanics generally vote Democrat, and black voters in particular have favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the course of this primary election. In South Carolina, Clinton’s resounding victory over Sanders occurred because 86 percent of the state’s black voting population favored Clinton, as per exit polls by The New York Times.
In Latino-heavy Nevada, entrance and exit polls suggested that Sanders won the Hispanic vote, though Clinton’s campaign and news analysts later disputed that conclusion. But even if Clinton is losing her edge over Sanders among Latinos, she’s still projected to win in states like Texas, where the Hispanic voting bloc is pretty strong, according to Super Tuesday forecasts by Nate Silver and his colleagues at FiveThirtyEight—albeit by a smaller margin than in other Southern states.
If these demographic predictions come true, Super Tuesday may well be the end of the line for Sanders.