NEW YORK – The growth of the Latino community in the United States is driving population growth at the national, state and local levels, which will have direct consequences on the redistricting of electoral districts, for example in Florida, where a large Puerto Rican community has established itself, points out the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
“There was a total population growth (in Florida) of all groups, but those that grew more proportionally were Hispanics by almost a million and a half between 2010 and 2020,” said Carlos Vargas, author of a study on the increase in the Latino population and changes in representation before Congress.
The Center has conducted population change analyzes in all states, this time Florida and Connecticut, and then New York, as well as in counties with a large presence of Puerto Ricans, to highlight how population changes will affect political representation in those jurisdictions.
In Florida, a Republican stronghold that won a congressional seat, for a total of 28, the growth of the Puerto Rican population has contributed greatly to the population increase in the central region of the state, which includes Orlando, where a large number of Puerto Ricans settled after Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico in 2017.
The addition of a seat to the Florida state delegation in Congress after a population growth of 14.1% between 2010 and 2020 offers an opportunity to increase Latino representation in that body, to which the community must be vigilant.
Florida’s population grew at twice the country’s rate of 7.1%, according to Census data cited by the Center, located at the City University of New York (CUNY).
“It is feasible to expect an increase in Hispanics in Congress, but it is not assured. For that, political pressure must be put on the Florida state legislature ”, commented the researcher and professor at the Center.
According to the study, “that possibility of another seat comes from the fact that where the population has grown the most is in the central region, from Tampa to Daytona,” a growth led by Puerto Ricans.
These demographic changes can also lead to a rise in county legislatures. “There, Hispanics are underrepresented at all levels,” Vargas said.
Nowadays, Florida’s delegation to the federal Congress includes four Hispanic members from the House of Representatives (Democrat Darren Soto and Republicans Mario Díaz-Balart, Carlos A. Giménez and María Elvira Salazar), and one from the Senate (Marco Rubio, Republican).
As a result of winning a seat in the House of Representatives, the Florida delegation will be the third largest after those from California and Texas. The estimated population of the state is now 21,538,187.
Besides Florida, The states of Texas, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will also win a representative, after the results of the Census.
The study also included Connecticut, that due to the low growth of its population, of only 0.7% -which earned it the fourth place among the states with the lowest growth-, it will not have changes in its representation of five seats in the Lower House, all Democrats and none Latino. It also has two senators. The state’s population is now estimated at 3,608,298.
“It could have lost a seat but it didn’t, just as it was feared that New York would lose two and eventually lose one,” Vargas said.
The population in seven of Connecticut’s eight counties declined due to a decline in the white population, while non-white groups increased, the report said.
It also indicates that although it will not have changes in its federal representation, it will have, like the other states, to redraw the limits of the five congressional districts so that they have an equal number of residents.
In 2019, Connecticut’s racial and ethnic makeup was 65.9% White, 16.9% Hispanic, 10.3% African American, and 4.8% Asian.