Shifting Demographics Cause Rapid Changes in Electorate – 2018 Primary Update

2016 Ethnic Breakdown in Broward County

Much was made in the 2016 election about the growth of the Hispanic voter. Minority voters are not evenly distributed in this country, and in metropolitan South Florida, that is readily apparent. Where we are based, Broward County, just north of Miami, became majority minority years ago, but the electorate is just catching up.

Primary Performance by Minorities Lags

White voters comprise 45% of the Broward County Electorate by registration. In November 2016, a Presidential election, turnout was up across the board, and White Voters were only 47.5% of the vote, slightly above their percentage of the electorate. However, in the August 2016 Primary, where most of the real decisions are made, White voters were 55% of the electorate. In the lower turnout primary (17% vs 72% in the general), the electorate is whiter and generally older.

This causes power to shift subtly, as county wide partisan races are nearly determined entirely in primaries, since Broward County generally votes for Democrats by a 2:1 margin over their Republican opponents. Judicial races, which are non-partisan, will be placed on the primary if there are two candidates instead of the general.

Demographic Trends are Clear, Pace is Delayed

Everything happening on a national scale is happening in Broward County, and it’s happening at the Primary level, just delayed 8 years. If you are campaigning in Broward Primary in 2018, you are facing an electorate with an ethic makeup that looks more similar to a 2010 general election electorate.

Hispanic Voters now turn-out in equal numbers to African Americans for the general election, about 1 point less than White Voters, but in the primary election, the turn-out rate is half that of non Hispanic Voters. This will result in a lower representation of Hispanic interests in judicial elections, since many of them will be determined before they turn to vote.

Trends within the Primary Electorate

Trends show that the white share of the electorate declining about 2.5% each election. It comes in fits and starts, but it is possible that 2018 will be majority, minority, but most likely in 2020 or 2022 we will see this shift in Broward County. This will change in 2018 if Hispanic voter turnout matches White and Black turnout, which would push the white vote under 50%, but most likely it will take a few more cycles.

Gender and Partisan Affiliation is more Constant

Party affiliate shows a slight decline in Republican voters in Broward County, but the pace could be flipped by a single election with an upturn in GOP voters.

Gender remains pretty constant at 55% Female – 45% Male.

Broward Politics Should Become More Diverse

The political establish of Broward may be slow to shift, but as the minority turnout increases each cycle in the primary season, the political leadership of Broward County should continue to shift. The Democratic Party will continue to dominate Broward County politics, but Black and Latino candidates will have a stronger reservoir of ethnically aligned voters in primary races, which should over time make our leadership more representative of the people.

Twitter Reaching Minority Internet Users

If you aren’t in an urban area, are slightly older, and white, you probably think that Twitter is the most over-hyped thing on the Internet. You may know some people that use it, but it seems silly and pointless. You use your phone to call/text people, Facebook is still the leading social media engine where you swap pictures of your kids with old classmates, etc.

But Twitter has had tremendous growth amongst the non-white population. According to Pew Research, “Twitter Update 2011“, while only 9% of White Internet users use Twitter, 25% of Black Internet users and 19% of Hispanic Internet users use TWitter, and half of all Twitter users use Twitter on their phone.

If your product/service needs to reach minority Internet users or young Internet users, you need to have a Twitter strategy.

The Spanish Language Web

South and Central America are home to large and growing populations, close proximity to the United States and Canada, and often generous or free trade pacts with the United States, bringing business interaction as well as increased immigation. With a growing Spanish speaking population in America, you would think that there would be massive growth in the Spanish language web. According to Wikipedia, Spanish Language in the United States,” 35.5 Million Americans over the age of 5 speak Spanish as their primary language, roughly half of whom speak English “very well.”

So a little over 5% of the American population speaks Spanish and very little English, and a little over 5% of the American population speaks Spanish natively.

When Apple was < 5% of the market, people worried about losing 5% market share by not accommodating them. By not offering your website in Spanish, you are losing 5% of the potential market that doesn't speak English well AND 5% of the potential market that speaks Spanish better. As a result of neglect, the keywords are substantially less competitive in both paid and free search, yet they are still neglected.

What are you doing to accommodate this portion of America?

Ethnic Micro-targeting on Facebook

So again I open my email to an article about the creepy way of finding Jews to market to on Facebook, this time entitled, Kosher Ham’s Jewdar Tell-All.  A while back, I commented on how I would identify people by ethnicity on Facebook, Ethnic Targeting on Facebook, and I was amused to see an article almost half a year later laying out the things that popped into my head in 10 minutes.  However, there were two things that bothered me in this article:

  1. Actually targetting Jews with an advertisement for a “Kosher Ham” business seems really bottom of the barrel, a proud Christian or Muslim wouldn’t target their fellow members of faith with an anti-Christian or anti-Muslim business, would they?
  2. They outrageously list the social groups they target, listing a few historically Jewish fraternities and leave out AEPi (Alpha Epsilon Pi), the Jewish fraternity.

In all seriousness, the point they make is that when targeting a group, you aren’t looking for 100% accuracy, just decent accuracy.  The US Jewish population is about 2%, targeting everyone looking for Jewish customers is pointless.  However, online we can develop sub groups with decent Jewish accuracy, and similar options exist for other populations.

For example, approximately 12% of New York City is Jewish, if you target people in New York City, you’ll get more non-Jews than Jews, but you are reaching 6 times more Jews than reaching just the United States.  Further, looking for keywords associated with secular Jewish culture (obviously a business making fun of Jewish dietary law as part of its snark isn’t looking for religious affiliation), you can start to reach a targeted segment.

Now, many, perhaps most Jews on Facebook won’t have ANY interests related to Jewishness on their profile, and if your goal is to reach all Jews, this will fail.  If you were running a political campaign and targeting Jews with a message, only reaching 40%-60% of the Jews on Facebook might not be enough.  However, for running a CPC campaign, it doesn’t matter what percentage of the Jews on Facebook I reach, what matters is what percentage of the people that I reach are Jewish.  Running an online small business doesn’t require “market share,” it requires reaching profitable customers.

If you only target people affiliated with ethnically aligned groups, you might find some segments that are 80% – 95% your target demographic, which means that you’ll get higher click through rates and waste fewer clicks.  People affiliated with those aligned groups, even if not of that ethnicity, might be useful to target anyway.  Someone that frequented Hillel events, even though not Jewish, is probably either a prime target for Jewish-themed T-shirts, either for themselves or as a gift, making your targeting even better.  National ad campaigns are difficult, finding potential customers for a business is much easier. Isn’t Dead, Is It?

I’ll admit I have a account that I never use, I use Facebook extensively, becoming active with the addition of the Newsfeed and later API/Applications.  Biggest reason?  I was able to hook iPhoto up to Facebook via Exporter and put up pictures of my kids.  Combine that with mobile uploads and then the Blackberry application, and my friends and I can share pictures of our kids.  The dragged my family on, because not everything was making it to Shutterfly or other online album software.  The walled garden aspect doesn’t bother me, I’m not terrifed that random people will be unable to find pictures of my kids on tricycles.

That said, has completely disappeared from the news.  However, Mashable is reporting that still rules the critical teen demographic.  This actually makes a lot of sense to me.  Facebook with its public adding of friends is perfect for those of us out of school, married, and reconnecting with high school/college classmates, but if I was in middle school or high school, I’d be terrified of the in your face nature of Facebook.  The idea that a relationship breakup is quickly messaged to your entire school seems terrifying.  The clean nature of the Facebook interface is perfect for college students with a more relaxed sense of social moors (and a larger world than a middle school), and it lets you track your friends at other schools, but bringing the competitive social nature of middle/high school online, terrifying.

Myspace’s flexibility drives me crazy, but I’m an Internet professional specializing in usability, SEO, and correctness in markup.  So why does the Newsmedia talk about the importance of Twitter and treat Myspace as an also ran, despite Myspace being easily 5 times the size of Twitter and dominating the entertainment world.  As far as I can tell, the rapid assignment of followers (unlike two-way friendship) works perfect for a celebrity-driven culture, and therefore works perfectly for the media world.  Myspace is about self expression, Facebook about sharing your life with your friends, and Twitter about disseminating your life/views/events to people that are listening but without requiring a two way conversation.  Which one of those matches the media?

The media’s cultural biases (coastal, liberal, urbane) also come into play, where Myspace’s focus on alternative music genres, popularity with subcultural groups, and ownership by News Corp (Fox/Fox News), the epitomy of low brow markets.  Despite the media lavishing attention on Twitter, Twitter appears to be making little traction with teenage users, and Myspace/Facebook still dominate this demographic.  Twitter depends on users always being on, Facebook/Myspace fill you in when you return.  Twenty-something entry level employees at a desk all day are perfect for Twitter, teenagers with technology restricted at school and possibly at home?  Twitter doesn’t make sense.

Social Media players should look past their biases and realize that Twitter may have the Buzz, but Facebook and Myspace have the users.