martes, septiembre 13, 2005

La Nueva York Hispana

N.Y.'s Ever-Changing Electorate: Next, the White Minority

Published: September 13, 2005
Today's Democratic primary is the prelude to a potentially revolutionary turning point in New York City's traditional tribal politics: In November, for the first time, non-Hispanic whites are projected to constitute a minority of the voters in a mayoral general election.

Today is Primary Day in New York State. In New York City, the polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. For questions about voting eligibility or to determine your district or polling place in the city, call the City Board of Elections: (212) VOTE-NYC (868-3692) or visit

The impact of the shift, coupled with changes wrought by term limits and public campaign financing, is already apparent in the choices voters face today. Polls say the front-runner for the Democratic nomination is Fernando Ferrer, a Puerto Rican raised in the South Bronx. Among his three challengers is C. Virginia Fields, a black woman who grew up in the South. William C. Thompson Jr., who is seeking a second term as comptroller, is black. And dozens of black, Hispanic and Asian candidates are competing for borough presidencies and City Council seats.

But rather than guaranteeing minority domination of New York government, the demographic changes have just made the city's politics more complex. A surge of new immigrants - many of them not bound, like their predecessors, to the Democratic Party - has so diversified black, Hispanic and Asian voters that some of the monolithic blocs and natural coalitions once taken for granted among those minority groups no longer apply.

Non-Hispanic whites became a minority of the city's overall population in the 1980's, but still made up a majority of voting-age citizens, registered voters and, according to exit polls and other surveys, New Yorkers who actually turned out on Election Day. It is estimated that non-Hispanic whites were 52 percent of the electorate in the 2001 mayoral race and 51 percent of the city's voters in last year's presidential election.

"This is the first election in New York City history where the majority is minority," Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant, said.

Mr. Ferrer's pollster, Jef Pollock, said, "There's no question that it's a historic moment."

One sign of Hispanic ascendancy is that Rodriguez has now become the most common surname on New York's voter registration rolls, according to an accounting by John H. Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center

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