A Peek Into Our Diverse Future

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The Census Bureau released figures this week showing that the number of nonwhite Americans broke the 100 million mark last year for the first time in American history. That means roughly 1 in 3 Americans is black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. And Americans of color are also decidedly younger as a group than white Americans.

This development could have huge political implications, such as dividing an already politically divided nation or increasing prospects for Democratic political candidates, as the larger minority groups have a history of voting more Democratic than Republican.

Or we could become a nation of voters split between older whites and younger voters of color, with very different political leanings and concerns. It could become the political dust-up of the millennium, pitting voters who support boosting Social Security and Medicaid benefits against those who want more money put into public school and college loans.

For a peek into the future, look at formerly predominantly white states that are diversifying most rapidly. Nevada is now 59 percent white, down from 66 percent just six years earlier. Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee surprisingly have the largest percentage gains of Hispanic population since 2000, with the biggest numerical gains, less surprisingly, registered by California, Texas, and Florida.