Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

Useful perspective and comparisons:

About one-in-ten people eligible to vote in this year’s U.S. presidential election are immigrants. And most (61%) of these 23 million naturalized citizens live in just five states.

California has more immigrant eligible voters (5.5 million) than any other state, more than New York (2.5 million) and Florida (2.5 million) combined. Texas and New Jersey round out the top five, with 1.8 million and 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, respectively.

Here is a closer look at immigrant eligible voters in these five states.

How we did this

1Asians make up 43% of immigrant eligible voters in California, the highest of any racial or ethnic group.Nationally, Latinos make up a higher share of immigrant eligible voters than Asians (34% vs. 31%), but the reverse is true in the Golden State, where many Latino immigrants are ineligible to vote because they do not hold U.S. citizenship.

California’s immigrant eligible voters come from many countries. But three origin countries account for 46% of the total: Mexico (1.5 million immigrant eligible voters), the Philippines (604,000 voters) and Vietnam (430,000 voters).

The vast majority of California’s immigrant eligible voters (75%) have lived in the United States for more than 20 years. The share is highest (82%) among California’s Latino immigrant voters. Smaller majorities of Asian (71%), white (71%) and black (59%) immigrant eligible voters in California have lived in the country for at least two decades. English proficiency varies widely among the state’s immigrant eligible voters. For example, 86% of black immigrant eligible voters in California are English proficient, a substantially higher share than among all the state’s immigrant eligible voters (55%).

2New York stands out for the racial and ethnic diversity of its immigrant eligible voters. Asians (26%), Latinos (25%) and whites (25%) make up similar shares of the state’s immigrant eligible voters, while black immigrants (21%) are a slightly lower share.

When it comes to speaking English, black immigrant eligible voters in New York are substantially more likely to be English proficient (89%) than white (66%), Asian (52%) and Latino (47%) immigrant voters.

In New York, no single birth country accounts for a large share of the state’s immigrant eligible voters; about a quarter of foreign-born voters come from the state’s three largest birth countries. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic are the largest single group, with 264,000 eligible voters, followed by China (207,000) and Jamaica (143,000).

3Latinos make up 54% of Florida’s immigrant eligible voters, far higher than the shares of white, black and Asian immigrant voters in the state (17%, 16% and 10% respectively).

Florida’s immigrant voters have varying levels of English proficiency. For example, around half (51%) of Latino immigrant eligible voters are proficient in English, a far lower share than among white (82%) or black (81%) immigrant voters.

With 606,000 voters, Cuban immigrants are the largest group in Florida’s foreign-born electorate. Colombian immigrants, at 190,000, and Haitian immigrants, at 187,000, are the second- and third-largest groups.

4Texas rivals Florida in its share of Hispanic immigrant voters. Roughly half (52%) of all immigrant eligible voters in Texas are Hispanic, a share that trails only Florida (54%) among the top states. Asian immigrants are the second-largest group in Texas at 29%.

Around seven-in-ten immigrant voters in Texas (68%) have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades, similar to the share among all U.S. immigrant voters (68%). However, the share of long-term residents is notably lower among black immigrant voters in Texas (40%).

A high share of black and white immigrant voters in Texas are English proficient (88% and 85%, respectively). Lower shares of Asian (64%) and Hispanic (47%) immigrant voters are proficient. This is similar to the pattern nationally.

By country of birth, Mexican immigrants alone account for 40% of all immigrant voters in Texas, or 736,000 people. The second-largest group, with 130,000 voters, are immigrants from Vietnam, while Indian immigrants, with 115,000 voters, make up the third-largest group in the state.

New Jersey has the highest share of Asian immigrant eligible voters with a bachelor’s degree or higher5New Jersey has a high share of Asian immigrant voters with a college degree. About two-thirds of Asian immigrant voters in New Jersey (66%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s substantially higher than the share among other immigrant voter groups in the state and the share among immigrant voters in the U.S. overall (36%), including those who are Asian.

Among New Jersey’s 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, 32% are Latino, 30% are Asian, 25% are white and 11% are black.

Meanwhile, the top birth countries for immigrant eligible voters in New Jersey are India (122,000 voters), the Dominican Republic (103,000) and the Philippines (63,000).

See the table below (or open it as a PDF) for detailed characteristics of immigrant eligible voters in California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and nationally.

Demographics of naturalized citizen eligible voters in select states

Source: Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

ANDREW COYNE: Why Conservatives have more at stake than Liberals in Canada’s class war

Coyne, as often happens, nails it. A plague on both houses, but more so for Conservatives:

Liberals, it is true, need to find a way to reach out to less educated voters, but not as badly as Conservatives need to make their peace with the eggheads

Democracy, in G. K. Chesterton’s careful definition, means government by the uneducated, “while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.”

The enduring value of this distinction was suggested by the ruckus stirred up over the weekend by Amir Attaran, professor of law at University of Ottawa. Responding to a recent Abacus Data poll finding the Tories leading the Liberals by a wide margin among Canadians with a high school diploma or less, with the Liberals ahead among those with bachelor degrees or higher, the professor tweeted: “The party of the uneducated. Every poll says this.”

In the ensuing furor, Attaran tried to protest that he was just stating a fact, but the disdain in the tweet was clear enough to most. For their part, while some Tories quibbled with the data (just one poll, within the margin of error, misplaced correlation etc), most seemed less offended by the sentiment — every poll does show the less formal education a voter has, the more likely they are to support the Conservatives — than by the suggestion there was something shameful about it.

It was, in short, another skirmish in the continuing class war: class, now defined not by occupation or birth, as in Chesterton’s time, but by education. Conservatives, true to form, professed outrage at this arrogant display of Liberal elitism, while Liberal partisans protested that they were not snobs, it’s just that Conservatives are such ignorant boobs (I paraphrase).

The professor compounded matters by objecting, not only that he is not a Liberal, but that he is not an elite, since his parents were immigrants. And everyone did their best to be as exquisitely sensitive (“let us respect the inherent dignity of labour”) as they could while still being viciously hurtful (“not uneducated, just unintelligent”).

There is, of course, much to object to in Attaran’s remark. Not all or even most wisdom is to be found in higher education. Lots of people who go to university don’t learn a thing, while much of what they do learn is tendentious rubbish. A society that sneers at tradespeople is a society on its way to the poorhouse.

Today’s populist conservative is prone to dismiss the analysis of experts, on everything from sex education to climate change, not in spite of their expertise but because of it.

But Conservative rhetoric too often seems to go beyond attacking snobbery to attacking education itself: expertise, knowledge, the whole notion that people who know more about a subject than the rest of us ought to be listened to with respect.

There is a rich tradition, to be sure, of conservative skepticism of intellectuals — recall William F. Buckley’s crack about preferring to be governed by “the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory” than the faculty of Harvard. But the target then was the hubris of intellectuals, convinced they could plan an entire economy or overturn the accumulated wisdom of centuries of tradition, not intellectualism itself: scientism, not science.

Today’s populist conservative, by contrast, is prone to dismiss the analysis of experts, on everything from sex education to climate change, not in spite of their expertise but because of it. A society that sneers at “so-called experts” is a society on its way to the madhouse.

As in most wars, there is fault on both sides. If Trump and Ford voters brim with resentment at “liberal elites” looking down their noses at them, it is not entirely without cause.

And yet we should beware of drawing the class lines too starkly. Graduates of apprenticeships and community colleges are themselves relative elites — 46 per cent of adult Canadians have no post-secondary education — and earn more accordingly: a premium of 12 and 18 per cent, respectively, over those with only a high school diploma.

At the same time, universities are for the most part glorified trade schools. Only 12 per cent of today’s university students graduate in the humanities, the object of so much (deserved) conservative ridicule. The rest are there to learn a trade — only trades of a tonier kind, like doctoring and lawyering.

It isn’t so much about the level of education, then, as the kind of education. (Trump, as he likes to boast, is a graduate of Wharton.) There is a high degree of overlap between “liberal elites” and “symbolic analysts” (in Robert Reich’s term) — people who make their living manipulating words, numbers, images, code.

It is Conservatives who have played the class card more heavily, and with more destructive results.

What is common to all those doctors and lawyers, academics and bureaucrats, designers, artists, and, yes, media people is that they deal in ideas — with the abstract versus the physical, representation versus reality — and are typically good at communicating these to others. Not for nothing are they sometimes called the “chattering classes.”

The ability to do so earns not only income, but social and cultural “capital,” at least among their fellow class members, clustered in the centres of our major cities. That there should be some degree of estrangement between them and those outside is not surprising, but one wishes political leaders would seek to bridge these divides rather than exacerbate them.

There is fault, as I say, on either side for this; but there is not equal fault. Liberal “virtue-signalling” may flatter the moral vanity of the educated classes, but it is Conservatives who have played the class card more heavily, and with more destructive results. Class wars are always toxic, but class wars organized around “is education a good thing” are suicidal.

And not only for society. Here’s the thing: the numbers of the higher educated are growing. The 2016 census was the first to show more than half the adult population — 54 per cent — with some kind of postsecondary degree, college or university, up from 48 per cent a decade before. And it is only going to continue: younger Canadians are more likely to have a degree than their parents, and their children will be more likely still.

Liberals, it is true, need to find a way to reach out to less educated voters, but not as badly as Conservatives need to make their peace with the eggheads.

Source: ANDREW COYNE: Why Conservatives have more at stake than Liberals in Canada’s class war