The Atlanta Regional Commission recently released new projections of population in the Atlanta region in 2040. As you might expect, the region will continue to grow, from 5.5 million to 8 million people, with Gwinnett County expected to be the most populous. But perhaps the most interesting change will be an increase in the region’s diversity over the next 25 years.
Of the five core metro Atlanta counties–Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton–Fulton and Gwinnett are already minority majority, with no racial group having over 50% of the population. By 2040, only Clayton will have a majority race, with 56% of the population being black. The Hispanic population will increase the most, from 694,000 residents in 2015 to 1.75 million in 2040.
The region’s changing demographics will also affect its politics. Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties are reliably Democratic, while Cobb and Gwinnett remain Republican, although many see Gwinnett turning purple in the near future, although not in 2016. And part of the reason for that has to do with the participation of minorities, especially Hispanics and Asians, in the political process.
Take a look at statistics from three areas. The 6th congressional district is represented by Tom Price and includes North Fulton, north DeKalb and east Cobb counties, 72% of registered voters are white, 13% are black, 5% are Asian and 3% are Hispanic. Yet, the population is 63% white, 13% black, 12% Hispanic, and 10% Asian. A greater percentage of whites are active voters at 77%. Based on voter history over the last few party primary elections, about 68% of voters voted in one or more Republican primaries and 32% voted in one or more Democratic primaries. Yet, roughly the same number of Hispanics and Asians pulled Democratic ballots as they did Republican ballots.
In the 4th District, with portions of DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, and Newton Counties. It’s almost a mirror image politically from the 6th, with 68% participating in a Democratic primary, and 32% a GOP primary. Whites are 29% of registered voters, but make up only 27% of the population. Blacks are 60% of registered voters and 58% of the population. Hispanics and Asians are each 2% of registered voters, but are 9% and 5% of the population, respectively. 64% of 4th District Hispanic voters chose a Democratic ballot than a Republican one, while 58% Asians voted in at least one Democratic primary.
In Gwinnett County, there’s no dominant race. Whites are 41% of the population, while 25% are black, 20% are Hispanic, and 11% are Asian. The number of registered voters, however, paint a different picture. 52% are white, 28% are black, 6% are Hispanic and 6% are Asian. 64% of Gwinnettians voted in one or more recent GOP primaries, while 36% voted in one or more Democratic primaries. 56% of Hispanics chose a Democratic ballot in recent primaries, while 54% of Asians chose a Republican ballot.
What does all this tell us? Whites participate in elections at a greater rate than the share of their population, Blacks participate at a rate roughly equal to their percentage of the population, while Asians and Hispanics participate at a much lower rate. Part of the reason for this is because many Hispanics and Asians are not citizens, and a greater percentage of those populations are under 18, compared to whites and blacks. It’s also interesting to note that while 75% of white registered voters are active, only about 66% of blacks, 50% of Hispanics and 46% of registered voters are active.