We reached an important tipping point in May when Census Bureau statistics revealed that, for the first time, whites represented a minority--49.6 percent--of all U.S. births. This is hardly a surprise to anyone who spends time in schools, playgrounds, or other settings where children predominate.
Because of recent immigration waves from Latin America and Asia and an aging, low-fertility white population, America is "browning" from the bottom of our age structure on up, and is destined to become a "majority minority" population in another three decades.
Yet these demographic shifts have, thus far, seemed almost irrelevant to the 2012 presidential campaign. In the parade of state Republican primary elections that made Mitt Romney the presumptive party nominee, the issues were targeted primarily to older, middle-class whites. And, while the economy will be issue No. 1 in the general election, important minority concerns like education, immigration reform, and the Dream Act are likely to take a back seat to the national deficit, Social Security, and the government's role in medical care.
This disconnect with the nation's new diverse demographics can be explained by the fact that minorities are, for the present, less likely to be citizens and of voting age. The following statistics tell it all: For every 100 Hispanics in the population, only 44 are eligible to vote. This compares with 78 eligible voters for every 100 whites in the population. (Blacks and Asians are also less able than whites to vote at rates of 69 and 53 per 100, respectively.