Virginia and the Presidential Vote: more influenced by Hispanics and Asians

Virginia is increasingly a contested state in presidential elections, in part due to the rise of non-white eligible voters. This November, the percentage of eligible voters who are minority (Hispanic, Black and Asian), will be around 30% compared to 26% in 2008.

Between 2008 and 2014, eligible Hispanic voters as a share of all eligible voters rose from 3% to 4.6%. Eligible Asians rose from 3% to 5%. Eligible Blacks remained at 20%. Combined, eligible non-whites rose from 26% to 29%.

According to the NY Times, during the 2012 presidential election, when 71% of Virginia’s voters went to the polls, Obama carried 93% of the black vote, 64% of the Hispanic vote, and 66% of the Asian vote, according to exit polls.

Hispanics in Virginia are on average more formally educated than Hispanics in the country, notably in a much smaller share without a high school diploma (13% vs. 22%) and higher share of those with a college degree (27% vs. 16%). As for household income, 42% of Hispanic households in Virginia had incomes of $100,000 or more, vs. 23% nationwide.

Also, the potential Hispanic voting power has sharply increased. In 2014, Hispanics accounted for 4.6% of the eligible voters. 38% of the Hispanic population was eligible to vote, compared with 42% of the entire Hispanic population in the country. This is a marked improvement in Hispanic voting power in the state from 2008, when 2.7% of eligible voters were Hispanic, and 32% of Hispanics were eligible to vote. 32% of eligible Hispanic voters are naturalized citizens, rather than citizens at birth. (This is higher than Hispanics nationwide, at 25%).

In 2010, 6.4% of Virginians spoke Spanish as the primary language at home. Among Asians (Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Philippine), 2.5% spoken their native language at home.


Some facts on immigrants in high skilled jobs

The Migration Policy Institute reports that foreign-born workers account for at least one quarter of employment in three major high skilled job groupings:

computer/mathematical, 32%

physicians/dentists/surgeons 26%

other sciences/engineering 24%

Of the state’s entire skilled workforce in 2008, 30% in California were foreign born, and 24% in New York.

But for many highly skilled foreign-born workers, the job market isn’t rosey. MPI also reported on the brain waste of highly educated immigrants working at jobs beneath their skill level. The main reasons: non-recognition of foreign academic and professional credentials and limited English proficiency.

MPI’s data (as I understand it) suggest that on the order of half of immigrants with a college degree earned outside the U.S. take jobs below their skill level. Among those foreign born who got their education in the U.S., a much higher share are employed in high skilled jobs.