The current Texas population, according to the U.S. Census, is 25,145,561 with 9,460,921 being of Hispanic descent. Pew Hispanic Institute estimates there are 3.8 million eligible Hispanic voters in the state of Texas, 25% of all eligible voters in the state.
A newly launched Texas-based nonpartisan organization Texas Puentes Initiative (TPI) is encouraged by the recent data and stated in a press release last week that “Hispanics in Texas now have expanded opportunities to help them strengthen their civic engagement and have their voices heard by Texas governmental leaders,”; in the past many Hispanics in Texas have felt ignored. Dr. Stephen A. Nuno, Principal researcher on the survey, commented that “Bridging the communication gap which clearly exists between Hispanics and our two-party system is a central component of social integration, and both Hispanics and our political institutions share equal responsibility in this.” One of Texas Puentes Initiative’s goals is to build bridges (puentes) amongst communities throughout Texas.
In 2004, Texas became a “minority-majority” state, joining Hawaii, New Mexico, and California with a majority of the state population comprised of groups who identify as ethnic and/or racial minorities. The projections for Texas estimate that the Hispanic population in Texas will be the largest demographic group by 2020.
Texas Puentes Initiative published their first survey on June 23, 2011 and findings from the survey reaffirm that Texas Hispanics are important voices in elections. Some interesting findings from the survey are found below:
– When considering support of Texas leaders, Governor Perry and the State Legislature received almost identical approval ratings, with 41% and 42% respectively, saying they approved of their jobs in office.
– Hispanics surveyed supported Democrats in four key areas: economy, education, health care, and immigration reform but overwhelmingly identified center-Right.
– When asked what the most important issues facing the Hispanic community were, immigration was the most important (40%), followed by economic issues, such as fixing the economy (17%), creating jobs (25%), and housing (34%).
– More than 90% said they have no affiliation with the Tea Party.
– 51% preferred lowering taxes, just 11% favored spending more.
Texas Puentes Initiative’s President Melissa Salas Blair celebrated the survey effort noting, “it is of vital importance to consistently engage communities through concrete outreach initiatives. Surveying is a powerful way to communicate with the Hispanic communities of Texas and to let their voices be heard. We hope to do many more surveys in the future. It’s important for Texas!”
To learn more about Texas Puentes Initiative and view the full survey visit their web site at http://www.texaspuentes.org