Whites in California are about to become a minority of the population.
The population of Latinos living in California now equals white non-Hispanics, state officials said. Eventually, Latinos will claim the title as the plurality or relative majority in 2014, overtaking the number of whites.
Researchers at the California Department of Finance had projected the shift in demographics with the fast-growing Latino population. Currently, whites and Latinos each make up 39% of the state’s overall population. That’s a major change from about 15 years ago, when whites outnumbered Latinos in the state by 5 million, according to Census stats.
Latino leaders marked the milestone Monday with a rally on the steps of the state’s capitol building in Sacramento. “We want to recognize this momentous change by acknowledging the responsibilities that lay ahead for our community at large as well as our state,” Orlando Fuentas, president of the Latino Democratic Club of Sacramento, said in the statement.
The spurt in the population of Latinos in America serves as a reminder of their increased clout in elections–a fact Republicans seemed to ignore in the last presidential election with their choice of policies. Only 27% of Latinos voted for Mitt Romney.
“I’ll be honest here. In the past two years, we’ve done a pretty lousy job of connecting in the Latino community,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus admitted on Saturday. “We’ve missed out on opportunities to build better relationships. But that’s going to change. We want to be a party that is more welcoming, more inclusive, more open.”
California will soon join New Mexico as the only other state in which Latinos are the largest racial or ethnic group.