Newly released data from the 2010 Census reveal the rapid growth of something that is anathema to the nativist agenda: ethnic diversity. The data, analyzed in reports from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Hispanic Center, show that the numbers of Hispanics and Asians in the United States are rising fast. This does not bode well for the anti-immigrant ideology of nativist politicians and their followers. Immigrants account for more than one-third of Hispanics and nearly two-thirds of Asians. Plus, more than one-quarter of both Hispanics and Asians are the native-born children of immigrants. As Hispanics and Asians come to comprise more and more of the population—and the electorate—nativists will become ever more marginalized.

The growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations over the past decade has been dramatic. According to the latest Census numbers, there were 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2010, up from 35.3 million in 2000. Hispanics now comprise one-sixth (16.3%) of the U.S. population, and they accounted for well over half (56%) of the nation’s total population growth during the last decade. There were also 14.7 million Asians in the United States as of 2010, up from 10.2 million in 2000. Asians comprise roughly one-twentieth (4.8%) of the population. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic White share of the U.S. population has fallen, from 69% in 2000 to 64% in 2010.

The rapidly growing Hispanic population is changing the demographic—and electoral—landscape of a great many states, including many battleground states. Hispanics now account for nearly half of the population in New Mexico, more than one-third in Texas and California, and more than one-quarter in Arizona and Nevada. The Hispanic population more than doubled in size over the past decade in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Mississippi, and South Dakota. In six states—Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—the population would not have increased at all if not for the growing number of Hispanics.

These are demographic trends that will reverberate in the 2012 elections and beyond. Political rhetoric that demonizes immigrants is unlikely to play well among the growing numbers of Hispanic and Asian voters, most of whom are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Would-be candidates for public office should keep in mind that Hispanics and Asians constituted one-in-ten voters in the 2008 elections, and that this share will only rise in the years to come.

Photo by Arabani.