Is Arizona Racist?

Arizona recently passed the nation's strictest law vis-a-vis illegal immigrants. It was signed last week by the governor and enjoys wide support among voters in Arizona. The law has been panned nationally as motivated by "racism," but a look at the poll numbers coming out of Arizona raises major challenges to this claim.

The estimated Hispanic population of Arizona is 29.5%. In 2004 Hispanics were 12% of voters. By 2008's election the percentage had jumped to 16%. Assuming that the percentage of voters remains at 16% today, an evaluation of polls looking at voter support for the law yields some surprising results.

Voter support for new law among:
Non Hispanics
Hispanics
83.33%
0.00%
80.33%
15.75%
75.33%
42.00%
70.33%
68.25%
A Rasmussen poll from April 21 showed that support for the law from all voters stands at 70%. The accompanying chart illustrates combinations of support among both the Hispanic and non-Hispanic voting populations of Arizona that would result in total voter backing of 70%. If we assume there is no Hispanic support for the law, we find that an astonishing 83% of non-Hispanic voters support it; meaning only 17% of non-Hispanics are opposed to it. Alternatively, if only 75 % of non-Hispanics back the law then we must conclude that over 42% of Hispanics likewise back it. The results of analyzing the numbers are that either an extraordinary percentage of non-Hispanics support the law or a slightly smaller but still large percentage of non-Hispanics do so along with a very significant percentage of the Hispanic population.

Arizona is the front lines of illegal immigration, with an estimated half a million illegal immigrants out of a population of 6.6 million. In Arizona illegal immigrants constitute approximately 7.5% of population, about twice the national average, estimated as 3.75% (11.6 out of 309 million). Given the distinct firsthand experience Arizona voters have had with illegal immigration and the huge majorities by which they support the new law, it is clear a major story on the impact of illegal immigration has been unfolding but going untold at a national level.

National opposition to the law has tarred it in racial terms, but do most people really believe that 83% of non-Hispanic voters in Arizona are anti-Hispanic? And, if you are willing to make an argument that a large percentage of non-Hispanic voters in Arizona are indeed anti-Hispanic, isn't it worth the rest of the country asking how a border state with one of the largest Hispanic population in the country has become so hostile to Hispanics?

To maintain that racial bias is motivating supporters of the new law requires us both to think the worst of a large number of people and to ignore the simpler explanation that it is really about illegal immigration. Of course we won't know for sure unless the national media stop focusing on the hyperbole and starts talking about what has been happening on the ground in Arizona.

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References:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_senate_elections/arizona/70_of_arizona_voters_favor_new_state_measure_cracking_down_on_illegal_immigration

Arizona recently passed the nation's strictest law vis-a-vis illegal immigrants. It was signed last week by the governor and enjoys wide support among voters in Arizona. The law has been panned nationally as motivated by "racism," but a look at the poll numbers coming out of Arizona raises major challenges to this claim.

The estimated Hispanic population of Arizona is 29.5%. In 2004 Hispanics were 12% of voters. By 2008's election the percentage had jumped to 16%. Assuming that the percentage of voters remains at 16% today, an evaluation of polls looking at voter support for the law yields some surprising results.

Voter support for new law among:
Non Hispanics
Hispanics
83.33%
0.00%
80.33%
15.75%
75.33%
42.00%
70.33%
68.25%
A Rasmussen poll from April 21 showed that support for the law from all voters stands at 70%. The accompanying chart illustrates combinations of support among both the Hispanic and non-Hispanic voting populations of Arizona that would result in total voter backing of 70%. If we assume there is no Hispanic support for the law, we find that an astonishing 83% of non-Hispanic voters support it; meaning only 17% of non-Hispanics are opposed to it. Alternatively, if only 75 % of non-Hispanics back the law then we must conclude that over 42% of Hispanics likewise back it. The results of analyzing the numbers are that either an extraordinary percentage of non-Hispanics support the law or a slightly smaller but still large percentage of non-Hispanics do so along with a very significant percentage of the Hispanic population.

Arizona is the front lines of illegal immigration, with an estimated half a million illegal immigrants out of a population of 6.6 million. In Arizona illegal immigrants constitute approximately 7.5% of population, about twice the national average, estimated as 3.75% (11.6 out of 309 million). Given the distinct firsthand experience Arizona voters have had with illegal immigration and the huge majorities by which they support the new law, it is clear a major story on the impact of illegal immigration has been unfolding but going untold at a national level.

National opposition to the law has tarred it in racial terms, but do most people really believe that 83% of non-Hispanic voters in Arizona are anti-Hispanic? And, if you are willing to make an argument that a large percentage of non-Hispanic voters in Arizona are indeed anti-Hispanic, isn't it worth the rest of the country asking how a border state with one of the largest Hispanic population in the country has become so hostile to Hispanics?

To maintain that racial bias is motivating supporters of the new law requires us both to think the worst of a large number of people and to ignore the simpler explanation that it is really about illegal immigration. Of course we won't know for sure unless the national media stop focusing on the hyperbole and starts talking about what has been happening on the ground in Arizona.

-----------------------------------------------------------

References:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1024/exit-poll-analysis-hispanics

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_senate_elections/arizona/70_of_arizona_voters_favor_new_state_measure_cracking_down_on_illegal_immigration

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