Hispanics, long under-represented as voters, are becoming political kingmakers

LOS ANGELES- The choice of John Pérez to take over as the new speaker of California’s state assembly later this month has been hailed as something of a breakthrough—but only because Mr Pérez is openly gay. That he is also Latino is not considered newsworthy. Kevin de León, who competed with Mr Pérez for the post, is also Latino, as are several of Mr Pérez’s predecessors, including his cousin, Antonio Villaraigosa, who is now the mayor of Los Angeles. The weight of Latinos in the politics of states like California and Texas (where the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus claims 44 of the 150 members of the state House of Representatives) is already understood to be not only large but normal.

This year, after the decennial census that will confirm the huge growth of America’s Hispanic population, this influence will become both evident and normal in even more parts of the country. Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), reckons that during the last census about 1m Latinos were left out of the statistics because “if you live in a garage or on somebody’s couch”, as many Latinos do, it is easy not to be counted. To read the full story click here.