A New York Voting State of Mind

If you don't register to vote in New York, you're basically saying “fuhgettaboutit." But Donald Trump’s children are not alone when it comes to not registering to vote in New York. Only 60 percent of voter-eligible New Yorkers between ages 30 and 49 actually voted in the 2012 presidential contest. Among the 40 percent who didn’t vote, 30 percent either didn’t register or didn’t answer the survey question, and 10 percent registered but still didn’t vote; they “fuhgottaboutit.” This is why voter turnout drives can make or break a campaign.

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Of course only U.S. citizens can vote. About 27 percent of New Yorkers are foreign born, but more than half of those are now naturalized citizens and can vote. About 12 percent of New York’s voting age population can’t vote due to citizenship status.

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New Yorkers’ roots are nothing if not diverse. Census Bureau surveys ask respondents about ancestry though not about religion. (Latino or Hispanic origin ancestries are treated separately.) However, some ancestral countries of New Yorkers suggest religious affiliation due to the predominance of a single religion in some countries. Nevertheless, New Yorkers’ diversity extends from ancestry to religion to language to racial and ethnic identification. Every known religion is likely found among New Yorkers. Most, if not all, presidential primary candidates have figured that out.

New Yorkers are generally more diverse with respect to race and Hispanic origin compared to the U.S. as a whole. Fully 17 percent of New Yorkers are Latino compared to 15 percent nationwide. African Americans account for 15 percent of New Yorkers, compared to 12.5 percent nationwide. Asians account for 9 percent of New Yorkers versus 6 percent nationwide. What sets New York apart from many other states, however, is the predominantly urban and often segregated residence of the black, Latino, and Asian populations.

Therein lies a major challenge to the presidential contenders: How to speak clearly to New York’s diverse populations not only with respect to their demographic characteristics but also in light of the geography of their opportunities and struggles.

Tom ExterComment