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Sins of omission

Thursday, Jun 16, 2016

* The AP takes a look at minority representation in state legislatures, including Illinois

Whites comprise 62.2 percent of Illinois’ population, but hold nearly three-fourths of the 177 seats in the state Legislature. Just over 7 percent of the Legislature is Hispanic, even though Latinos make up nearly 17 percent of the state’s population.

Illinois also has two of the top five state House districts in the U.S. with Hispanic majorities but white representatives. Chicago Democratic Rep. Daniel Burke’s district, which ranks fourth in that category, has a Hispanic population of 75 percent. In House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Chicago district, which ranks fifth, Hispanics make up 68 percent of it.

The AP analyzed the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures to determine the extent to which the nation’s thousands of lawmakers match the demographics of its hundreds of millions of residents. The result: Non-Hispanic whites make up a little over 60 percent of the U.S. population, but still hold more than 80 percent of all congressional and state legislative seats. […]

But several factors have contributed to the underrepresentation of Hispanics and Asians in state legislatures throughout the state and the U.S., including low naturalization rates which prevent them voting, said Rob Paral, a Chicago-area demographer. In addition to that, he said some are in the country illegally while others who are U.S. citizens are simply too young to vote or don’t participate.

* The AP chose to lead their Illinois story with a brief profile of Theresa Mah, who won a House Democratic primary in March and will be the state’s first Asian-American legislator when she’s sworn in next January, despite the state having an Asian-American population of 5 percent.

Not mentioned, for whatever reason, is that Mah’s district is majority Latino and she defeated a Latino opponent. That omission is pretty darned weird, particularly in this context.

Also not mentioned is that while African-Americans make up 14.7 percent of Illinois’ population, they comprise 18 percent of General Assembly membership.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - t sowell - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:11 am:

    Rick - your comments point out the foolishness of special interest group politics.


  2. - RH - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Rich. I thought the same thing when I read this story this morning. Reeks of cherry picking data to support a headline. Bad reporting.


  3. - IRLJ - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:26 am:

    With apologies to those who worship Sabermetrics, this study illustrates the limited value of numbers.
    Inevitably, you’re left with looking at who sponsored the study, and what they’re trying to say.
    What appears to be objective is more subjective than you think.


  4. - atsuishin - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:30 am:

    Interesting that blacks are actually pretty well represented especially compared to other states like tx, ga, va. But nearly 200,000 blacks moved out of chicago, many evacuating to those very southern “racist” states. maybe they don’t like high crime and taxes like everyone else. Maybe they want jobs and competent leaders too not just phony gimmicks offered to them by local democrats.


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:31 am:

    Power of the pen equals the power to spin your own personal agenda.


  6. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:38 am:

    The only worthwhile conclusion beyond debate would be: Latinos are underrepresented. They can do something about this and they should. They shouldn’t allow anyone else to have a fight over their “share”. Those fights aren’t genuine. Sometimes it takes a while, but they’ll sort this out.


  7. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:39 am:

    Lies, damnable lies, and statistics. Is it the AP’s premise that white people should not be represented by black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, etc.? Math is logical. The AP, in this instance, not so much.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:49 am:

    Why single out white representatives of largely Hispanic populations without pointing out African or Asian Americans representing the same as well? Sloppy reporting.


  9. - Biography - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    I saw the headline and did a double-take. It’s the AP, though.


  10. - Amalia - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 12:07 pm:

    there is a persistent misunderstanding of the population of this country, the actual percentages in each ethnic group. One reason could be voting power….there are eyes on tv programs, say, but there are not votes for candidates due to citizenship. but the reality is that every time there is a story that bemoans the lack of African Americans on, for example, SNL, there should be a story that Hispanic actors are invisible. It’s really infuriating.


  11. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    “Just over 7 percent of the Legislature is Hispanic, even though Latinos make up nearly 17 percent of the state’s population.”

    1) Latinos constitute approximately 10% of Illinois eligible voters. http://www.pewhispanic.org/fact-sheets/2016-state-election-fact-sheets/latinos-in-the-2016-election-illinois/
    2) Racial/ethnic representation has alway lagged behind population (building a political organization takes time)

    – MrJM


  12. - Thoughts Matter - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 12:23 pm:

    People vote for whom they want to vote for. If they don’t vote at all, then they can’t complain when they aren’t well represented. Also, the premise is flawed when it comes to Hispanics or other ethnicities as a percentage of the population without regards to citizenship. Use only citizens in your calculations. Our elections are done to determine who will represent citizens.


  13. - Ghost - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 3:10 pm:

    and under the remap proposal those numbers get whiter


  14. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 3:54 pm:

    Reporting like this makes me sick. It reduces everything to skin color and cultural background. I can tell you that all my daughters generation doesn’t vote that way. Maybe we should look to see how many AP reporters are non- majority.


  15. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 5:03 pm:

    ==- t sowell - Thursday, Jun 16, 16 @ 11:11 am:==

    All politics is interest groups. You’re perception of history and reality is slipping Tom.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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