Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics?

The sizable migration of racial minorities to Atlanta’s suburbs may not be the expected, severe blow to conservatism and the Republican Party.

During the past decade, more and more black, Hispanic and Asian Americans moved to places like Cobb and Gwinnett counties. Conventional wisdom holds that these typically Democratic-leaning groups pose a threat to the GOP in its traditional strongholds.

While that forecast may come true, it hasn’t yet. And there’s good reason to think it won’t anytime soon. But first, a few data points from the 2010 census released Thursday.

No Georgia county added more residents between 2000 and 2010 than Gwinnett. With 216,871 newcomers, the county vaulted past Cobb and DeKalb into second place in the state, behind only Fulton.

Gwinnett’s minority population, however, grew by more than a quarter million — more than making up for a net outflow among whites. In 2000, Gwinnett was two-thirds white; now, minorities make up a comfortable majority.

The shift was less dramatic in Cobb (69 percent white in 2000 to 56 percent in 2010). But one thing the two big counties had in common was that they both remained firmly Republican last November.

To see how firm the GOP’s grip was relative to the past, compare 2010’s election results to those of 1998. Drawing a comparison with the last census year, 2000, is tricky because there was a presidential election that year but not in 2010 — and turnout in Georgia is very different when the White House is up for grabs.

The 1998 election has other parallels to 2010: In both years, a Republican U.S. senator ran for re-election but there was no incumbent in the gubernatorial race (plus, the Democratic candidate each time was Roy Barnes). And 1998 is farther back than 2000 in terms of the demographic shift — so, if anything, the change ought to be more pronounced.

Yet, little changed in terms of partisan politics.

In 1998, Barnes lost Cobb by 8 percentage points; last year, the margin was almost twice as large at 15 points.

In Gwinnett, Barnes fared somewhat better in 2010, losing by “just” 20 points rather than 25 the first time around. Given the tremendous demographic change over those 12 years, one would have expected Gwinnett to be much more competitive. But Nathan Deal was in no danger of losing the county.

In last year’s U.S. Senate race, Johnny Isakson won by 28 points in Gwinnett. His predecessor, Paul Coverdell, took the county by 34 points in 1998. So, again, there was some falloff but still a healthy margin of victory for the Republican. (In Cobb, Isakson did seven points better than Coverdell did.)

I have a hunch that things aren’t going to change very much in the future, either. Traffic, zoning fights and the other issues that accompany the kind of rapid growth seen in Atlanta’s suburbs are all color-blind.

While many minority voters accustomed to picking Democrats will stick to that habit, at least for a while, people ultimately vote their interests. The Democratic Party traditionally has aligned itself with many of the interests of urban minorities. But when those voters move to the ’burbs, they may well decide that the GOP offers better solutions to the different problems they find there.

If so, whole blocs of voters may be newly open to ideas they didn’t embrace before. Either way, a lessening of the usual identity politics will be good for us all.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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364 comments Add your comment

jconservative

March 18th, 2011
7:17 pm

40 years from now everything you wrote will be history. All these counties will be “brown”.

All us “white folk” will be just another minority.

So the question on the table is what does each political party need to do to insure its “majority role” in 2050?

Remember the Republicans freed the slaves in 1863 and cornered the black vote for the next 100 years.

40 years is a lot shorter period of time than it appears.

So, how do “we” corner the “brown” vote? Or perhaps more correctly, what do “we” need to do to NOT drive the brown vote away from our party?

Sheila

March 18th, 2011
8:43 pm

I question the notion that there should be a “brown” vote. It is not clear to me that voters should be united by their skin color as the determining factor of their politics. While the past few decades have certainly seen a “black” vote. I don’t think it’s been good for the black community or for the country.

Just Me

March 18th, 2011
9:17 pm

How? You completely forget about the white vote. You don’t give a rats behind about thier needs, their children’s needs, or the fact that THEY have now become the minority. YOu don’t give them special privileges, no, you PUNISH THEM for having been born white. THAT’s how.

Jefferson

March 18th, 2011
9:24 pm

Who cares about political unions ? The GOP has no credibility and for one to continue to support them make fools of people. This artical is an example of party vs America. Too bad.

Michael H. Smith

March 18th, 2011
9:28 pm

Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics?

Nope! Not as long as Democrats believe they can cash in on it. Problem is, the Democrats have about milked all the ethnocentric (”race” as the bigots would have it) cows dry.

Furious Styles

March 18th, 2011
10:21 pm

Kyle.. what are you trying to stir up? Anyone living in Atlanta the past 10 years or so doesn’t need this report to believe the growth that’s gone on. Sure you don’t have to believe or like it, you’d have to be in a sad state of denial if you didn’t notice the growth that’s gone on.

You mentioned that you don’t expect things to change very much in the future….Sonny danced around traffic for 8 years. Its Deal’s baby now, can he dance around traffic another 4 or 8 years? Lets see what happens.

jconservative

March 18th, 2011
10:36 pm

Re skin color and the vote.

Reagan Democrats. Moral Majority.

Just saying.

Drifter

March 18th, 2011
10:38 pm

You’re dreaming bigtime Kyle. It’s not “urban minorities” that vote Democratic, but “minorities”. If you doubt it for a second, take a gander at politics in Clayton County over the past 10 years. When the “minorities” become the majority, they all start voting and you won’t find a Republican anywhere around. And when “minorities” become the majority in the entire country, which they will, the GOP will just be the OP.

ND

March 18th, 2011
11:10 pm

Just from my own experience as a Gwinnett minority who regularly interacts with other Gwinnett minorities, I would imagine this has less to do with minorities switching parties as it has to do with a higher percentage of minorities simply not voting, particularly Hispanics.

Brandon

March 18th, 2011
11:51 pm

Kyle,many of the minorities in counted in the census do not have voting privileges. Some are resident aliens,undocumented, or overstaying visas and simply cannot vote. Their American born children can vote when they are 18 yrs old. This is why the GOP will not support comprehensive immigration reform. Voting statistics will lag a bit. I can tell you as a Black American, I have always been a progressive. Furthermore, my political views are not based upon my race but based upon my education and life experiences. I just feel its a shame that our representatives do not seem to care about the minority experience at all. I can’t wait till the day minority voting power increases. That will be the day that race politics end, and our elected representatives will be forced to have an universal appeal.

Cutty

March 19th, 2011
12:20 am

Yeah, minorities should embrace new ideas like whether the President is from some illegitimate, foreign country. I mean, why else would he and Chester A. Arthur be the only two Commanders-in-Chief in history to have their citizenship questioned?

Smeagol

March 19th, 2011
12:25 am

Smeagol is glad we have the censuses to tells us what we already know but Smeagol hateses politicians. He hateses their lying, trixy faces.

[...] Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics ? Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Yet, little changed in terms of partisan politics . In 1998, Barnes lost Cobb by 8 percentage points; last year, the margin was almost twice as large at 15 points. Excerpt from: Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics? – Atlanta Journa… [...]

MC

March 19th, 2011
4:33 am

When these citizen children start going to the polls, retribution on the anti family values conservatives that want to deport mom and dad will be swift and sure. They won’t forget.

Southern by the grace of God

March 19th, 2011
5:36 am

“Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics?”…..No. While the numbers of minorities in suburban areas, fueled by the relocation of African-Americans from the urban core to the suburbs and the massive influx of immigrants of color, legal and illegal,
may be on the rise, newly-arrived immigrants often either don’t have the legal status or the mastery of the American political system to yet become involved enough to consistently vote and become a dependable constituency, at least in these parts. The very large and sizable demographic of conservative white middle-aged and aging Baby Boomers and the elderly should keep the GOP afloat for quite awhile (granted the GOP doesn’t screw up too badly as both parties are known to frequently do) because the elderly, especially elderly whites, are well-known to be the most dependable voting block of constitutents as long as they can remain mobile enough to get to the polls.

There’s also very strong emerging evidence that groups of well-to-do and culturally conservative minorities and immigrants other than Hispanics and blacks (conservative and somewhat wealthy East Indians being the most likely) being very compatible with and very much drawn to the GOP message of conservative social values, smaller government (smaller does NOT mean non-existent, lol!) and do-it-yourself business-minded capitalism. East Indian politicians like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who were elected to office in traditionally very socially conservative Southern states that are “Deep in the Heart of Dixie” are proof that the GOP may have a serious long-term future with a people of color that look to be the next big wave of immigration to these shores, a wave that has the potential to be even bigger and more influential than the wave of immigration currently coming from Mexico and Latin America. Lookout America for the East Indians, they could be the long-term conservative counterbalance to the GOP’s loss of the Hispanic vote to the Democrats.

Southern by the grace of God

March 19th, 2011
5:53 am

MC
March 19th, 2011
4:33 am
“When these citizen children start going to the polls, retribution on the anti family values conservatives that want to deport mom and dad will be swift and sure. They won’t forget.”

You’re right, MC. The heated debate over illegal immigration is turning off the fast-growing Hispanic demographic to the Repubs and driving them over to vote for the Dems in droves. The heated and sometimes vitriolic rhetoric coming from the conservative base of the right during this debate is sure to make the much-needed Hispanic demographic become a dependable voting block for the Democrats for years-and-years to come.

Joel Edge

March 19th, 2011
5:56 am

No big deal. These “browning of American” stories are still going to come around. Last time I checked, ideology isn’t restricted by skin color. If you think that the Republican party should be more like the Democrat party, then I suggest you support the Democrat party.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 19th, 2011
6:53 am

Libs don’t last long in Cobb County, just sayin…

bc

March 19th, 2011
7:30 am

JConserative “Remember the Republicans freed the slaves in 1863 and cornered the black vote for the next 100 years”

Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, all Democrats. You will agree your historical reference is a wee bit off the mark, yes?.

Cutty

March 19th, 2011
7:34 am

Conservatives don’t last long with their wives, just sayin…

Sister Sarah

March 19th, 2011
8:20 am

@Just Me. I have an offer for you. Wanna switch places? I’ll be waiing…

carlosgvv

March 19th, 2011
8:29 am

I know it’s not politically correct to wonder how many of those new suburban minorities are illegals. And since many of these illegals are masters of the fake ID, don’t bother telling me they won’t vote. And we all know our worthless politicans will grab every illegal vote they can. Hey, do we have a great political system or what!!!!!!!

Buzz G

March 19th, 2011
8:36 am

The census told us three things we already knew.

1. Blacks are moving to the burbs.
2. Hispanics are sneaking in and then are having lots of kids.
3. Whites are having very few kids.

All three trends seem to be accelerating.

SUBURBAN OVERLORD

March 19th, 2011
8:37 am

Identity politics is eroding in the burbs, but is not vanishing. I live in Gwinnett. I am personally a white, native Southern Independent who moved from another state in the early 1990s. I will split my vote for whoever is the best person. Over the past 10 years our neighborhood has become 50% non-white. For those of us native Southerners who have had internationals join us in our schools and neighborhoods, the results have been shocking and not what I expected. Warning, stereotypes provided below:

Asians are VERY CONSERVATIVE, especially our huge Korean and Chinese population. I’ve found every stereotype about them working themselves to death to be true. They are great neighbors that keep their yards well maintained.

What is most surprising is how conservative the legal Mexicans are, almost as conservative as Asians. I just don’t expect to see a lot of 2nd generation Mexicans being very liberal. My most trusted neighbors are 2nd generation Mexicans who moved to Gwinnett from Texas. The Mexicans don’t view themselves as Mexicans, just regular folk, sort of the same way I view myself as being Scotch-Irish. They take care of their yards pretty good, but not as good as the Asians.

My Black friends vote both ways in primaries, but generally don’t trust Republican’s in statewide and national elections. They take care of their yards the best of all of us, even better than us native Southerners.

Godless Yankee whites from up North take care of their yards the worst, of course. They are having the most challenges assimilating into a civilized society among us native Southerners and internationals. They are also the most prone to “identity politics.”

bo

March 19th, 2011
8:48 am

“If so, whole blocs of voters may be newly open to ideas they didn’t embrace before. Either way, a lessening of the usual identity politics will be good for us all.”

1. There are a lot of misconceptions here. Atlanta does not have a true solid urban core. Blacks and other minorities who are moving to the “suburbs” such as Gwinnett are leaving communities that are mostly suburban in nature to begin even if they are in ATL or Fulton County. So, I don’t buy that there will be any significant political changes as people move from south ATL or Clayton (considerd a suburb not all that long ago) to neighborhoods in Gwinnett. Not quite the same thing as someone moving from Harlem to Long Island. for instance.

2. Why is it that identity politics are exclusively for minorities? You don’t think white conservatives in GA politics try to fit a stereotype to best reach out to their voters: pick-up trucks, flannel shirts, boots, southern drawl, mega churches, gun toting, offspring in white outfits, small business oriented, liberal hating, skeptical of too much education, etc. that’s what the voters are comfotable with.

DannyX

March 19th, 2011
8:55 am

Why in the world would suburban minorities consider the Republican party?

Take a look at Gwinnett County, it is almost 50% minority yet every single elected official is white. Even worse for minorities is the fact that every single department except one is headed by a white person.

Message to minorities in Gwinnett, vote Republican, keep quiet, and let the white people run things.

Minorities need not apply.

jd

March 19th, 2011
9:02 am

GOP solutions? Lessee– in 8 years – no change in transportation, no change in water crisis, education is worse than it was and is funded less, budget tricks have left holes bigger than $250 million in health and $600 million in labor; unemployment is leading the nation, and after 6 years of declaring HOPE was in danger of going away — all we did was kick the can down the road. Yeah — GOP solutions ought to be a real attractive option. The only saving grace is that the Dems haven’t offered a solution in 8 years either.

What about voters?

March 19th, 2011
9:23 am

How much of the growth in Gwinnett was from people who aren’t even eligible to vote? Remembered seeing a stat a year or two ago that 25% of Gwinnett population (won’t use word citizens) was born in a foreign country. Under US/GA laws, how many of the people are even eligible to vote (non citizens are not)? The comparison of the eligible voting base to the actual racial/ethnic mix of the counties might be interesting (as will the eventual battles about who can vote, granting citizenship more easily, etc.).

zeke

March 19th, 2011
9:24 am

First get rid of illegals and stop the feds from using their numbers in population counts to determine house districts or payments of taxpayer money for their services. Second, as blacks become more mainstream, they understand the stupidity of left wing socialist democrat policies and begin to vote conservative and will slowly do so in huge numbers! BYE BYE DEMOCRAPS!

MC

March 19th, 2011
9:28 am

Karen Handle already told you carlosgvv. When the antis demanded that her office investigate that very issue she found exactly 0. Don’t worry about them. It’s there citizen children that are going to get you.

Congressman Brooks

March 19th, 2011
9:32 am

When the minorities take over the county governments they bring in all the corruptions! Dekalb County is a good example! The white population will continue to move farther and farther away! The majority is rapidly become the minority and when this happens..will they too stand around with their hands out and want somebody other than theirselves to support them?

MC

March 19th, 2011
9:33 am

What about voters? …..just 4 million new Latino voters by 2012 that’s what about votes. And with every year that passes more and more of those citizen kids become eligible to vote. And guess what? Latinos are starting to become very well organized at the state level and when the numbers are there, republicans will have a big fight on their hands.

MC

March 19th, 2011
9:37 am

I just wish someone could logically and rationally explain all this white fright. And I’m a white guy by the way.

MC

March 19th, 2011
9:41 am

Congressman Brooks obviously you are not keeping up with Gwinnett County politics. They’re about to send a handful of their white pols to the lockup. Corruption doesn’t have a color.

dd

March 19th, 2011
9:44 am

as long as they can get from free gubmint handouts because of the evil white man’s oppression, black people will always be dependent on, sorry, vote for democrats.

Lee

March 19th, 2011
9:45 am

It will be interesting to observe Gwinnett for the next twenty years.

White suburbanites move into a semi-rural area and build a world class infrastructure. Black/brown follow years later, and if history holds true, will wreak havoc.

Watch the quality of life indicators such as crime rates and quality of schools.

ARTC'sHubby

March 19th, 2011
9:50 am

I am married to a legal Latina SUBURBAN OVERLORD and yes they have some very conservative values in some cases. But believe me. If you think they are going to vote republican you are delusional. They are pissed off as hell over all these new bubba laws that might subject them to show me your papers. They see republican poitics as being totally race based. And when Chip Rogers stands side by side with that white trash, white supremacist D.A. King you think they don’t take notice? LMAO! Republicans have FUBAR with Latinos for a long long time. They understand that it is their color that has been targeted and their accents. Don’t delude yourself. I have been to meetings where hundreds of legals gather to organize to take it to republicans. They may come back eventually but first they are going to take a pound of republican flesh. It’s the Latino way buddy. On top of all the wonderful values they possess their is one value that is just as big. Vengeance.

MC

March 19th, 2011
9:57 am

In 2004 GWB got 44% of the Latino vote. In 2008 John McCain got 31%. That math doesn’t lie. It should tell beyond doubt which direction Latinos are going in. And if republicans keep pandering to low life bigots it will only get worse.

SUBURBAN OVERLORD

March 19th, 2011
10:00 am

Danny X obviously does not venture outside of I-285 from his hipster cocoon inside the City of Atlanta. Unfortunately facts don’t support his assertion that Gwinnett non-whites are just lackeys trembling under oppression from “the Man.” It is inconceivable to Atlanta hipsters that the urban core is viewed by many non-whites as inhospitable to real diversity.

Why don’t you ask black Republican’s like Melvin Everson if he is oppressed by the man? (former Snellville Mayor Pro Tem – yes I said SNELLVILLE). How about Hispanics like Lilburn State Rep. David Casas (yes, I said LILBURN). Heck, there are even Hispanic Democrats like State Rep. Pedro Marin from Gwinnett.

DannyX

March 19th, 2011
10:20 am

Gwinnett County elected government is 100% white. Every department except one is run by a white person.

As SUBURBAN O says there is a Hispanic Democrat elected to office in Gwinnett in one state race, as a Dem. The county government is solid white. Minorities should stick with the Dems if they want to be a part of the government. Thanks for proving my point.

As Suburban Overload points out, if you take all the state, county, city, and federal elected positions into consideration its just as bad. Out of a county with a population nearly half minority, the second largest county in Georgia has only one elected minority.

Olderandwiser49

March 19th, 2011
10:27 am

Much of the shift in population locations are the result of people trying to get out of crime-infested areas and poor schools. Unfortunately, they often bring this “urban blight” with them, as Gwinnett and Cobb County are seeing. As for changing these counties from red to blue, it is doubtful that we will see that any time soon. Blacks (traditionally) don’t vote in large numbers when elections don’t involve black candidates, and much of the Hispanic influx are people who can’t vote, since they are in this country illegally.

Azazel

March 19th, 2011
10:37 am

Ethnicity is defined by the STATE. It is a simple matter to overcome identity politics by not targeting programs and funding to “ethnicities”, but to all citizens. Also, government would be downsized, since there would be no need for a “department of minority health”, since a “minority” is an everyone.

AmVet

March 19th, 2011
10:44 am

The reason that people of color – black, brown, red, yellow and others – always vote overwhelmingly against the neo-con infested GOP, is the exact same reason that we American Jews always do so.

We have exceptionally sensitive BS detectors. Which inevitably pegs around southern, white rubes and the ever-conned xenophobes who always vote against their own interests.

Mega tax cuts for the rich, but not for Bubba himself? Sounds good to him, cuz’ the fool actually believes he’ll get in on some of that godly Christian trickle down!

And all he and his clueless fellow bigots and their families got was trickled on…

Eric

March 19th, 2011
10:45 am

Regardless of race or county, if the Republicans want my vote again, they had better NOT pass the proposed increase sales tax on consumer services, secondary car sales, and groceries! I’m not thrilled with the new toll-lanes on I-85 either or that 400 may keep its toll.

Peter

March 19th, 2011
10:45 am

What’s the matter Kyle…..you don’t like minorities living next door ?

By the way, do your children like their milk to glow in the dark ?

Maybe you kids can have babies with two heads……that should make your grand kids super smart, hopefully smarter than your logic about Nuclear.

If you loved your family, you would want to protect them from worst case disasters, not push for Free Tax money for the Nuclear industry………But hey Republican’s like free MONEY when it is for their Corporate causes.

Azazel

March 19th, 2011
10:59 am

As an aside, I am watching a re-run on C-Span of the house NPR debate. Rep. Marsha Blackburn –R, TN, said that most NPR listeners are wealthy and educated, so why should taxpayer money be spent to support the entertainment of the wealthy people? Hmmm.

yuzeyurbrain

March 19th, 2011
11:05 am

I partially disagree with Kyle’s Census comparison with voting patterns. First, he is comparing apples and oranges. The Census counts all people. The voting rolls count those over 17 who are citizens who have registered to vote. Half of the Hispanic Census count was under 18. Extrapolating from the national est. of 10 to 12 million illegals, about 75% to 80% are citizens. These factors would account for the reason that while Gwinnett now has more people, Cobb still has more voters. As Hispanics and other minorities turn 18, they will begin to have a much more profound impact on the electorate, not just in parts of Georgia but in the Southwest in places like Arizona. Now, Kyle is right that these voters are not necessarily a lock for the Democrats. That was the theory with W and Karl Rove and they had some success with it. But many Republicans including Georgia have bit themselves in the butt with racist demagoguery against Hispanics to the benefit of the Democrats. Thus Hispanics are widely credited with saving Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada and have gone heavily for Obama. The Republicans have a lot of repair work to do and it remains to be seen whether they will overcome their baser instincts to do so. In the meantime, it is advisable to Cong. Woodall and a number of state legislators that they brush up on their Spanish.

Azazel

March 19th, 2011
11:07 am

Back to Cobb County. A lot of Cobb county was developed in the the mid to late 1960’s. Now those original homeowners are elderly or dead, and that housing may be currently owned by their children or sold in the last 5 to 8 years by the children of the original owners. Hispanics and middle class Blacks, mainly, purchase this type of readily available housing, which may account for “minority” population increase in Cobb county.

Grob Hahn

March 19th, 2011
11:19 am

Considering how many blacks have been essentially forced out of the city and into the suburbs the term “migration” is a serious misnomer. Fulton and Dekalb wanted to remove the blighted housing projects and demolish them, so they shuffled the residents out using subsidies. They already knew most of the projects dwellers weren’t voting, so they pushed them out to replace them with people who do vote. I agree that little will change politically in the suburbs, but a lot of other changes are happening. In 10 years the black population of tiny little Douglas county has doubled to nearly 40%. Douglas county is dealing with it by building a huge new jail that will likely be majority black soon after opening.

This wasn’t a “migration” at all. ATL was just taking out the trash.
Grobbbbbbbbbbb

carlosgvv

March 19th, 2011
11:21 am

MC

I am really glad to hear that since I know Karen Handel and her office are good honest politicans and would never lie to me.