Photo: California Latino population increases as whites' decrease.
Over the last decade, the ethnic makeup of California has begun to change. As the number of Latinos and Asians rise, the number of non-Hispanic whites has dropped.
Since 2000, the number of non-Hispanic whites in the state has dropped by about 850,000, while Latinos have increased by 3 million and Asians by 1.1 million people.
Demographers say the state’s struggling economy is behind the shift, as California’s unemployment rate is at 12 percent. The birthrate is key as well. Since 2000, in contrast to previous generations, whites are having fewer children, which is resulting is white Californians dying off quicker than they are being born.
Amongst Latinos and Asians, the population jumped, fueled by immigration and higher birthrate. In fact, Latinos are expected to be the majority by 2025.
With the change in demographics, California is also seeing the political winds change, as minorities overall, tend to vote Democratic. Though whites still make up 64 percent of voters, they are pretty evenly split, with 40 percent Republican, 37 percent Democrat, and 23 percent nonpartisan.
“The Republican Party can no longer count on non-Hispanic whites to give them the pluralities they need,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. “The GOP really needs to do outreach to ethnic populations and younger voters in a very strategic way.”
However, the change in population numbers could have something to do with more people overall acknowledging that they are mixed.
“Racial identity is much more flexible now,” Howard Winant, director of the UC Center for New Racial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “In many cases appearance is a poor guide to racial identity.”
Though Winant said some whites feel they are being displaced by minorities, there is no evidence that whites are being discriminated against.