I finally got ahold of the data I had been wanting to see – precinct level data on demographics. I haven’t dived very deep yet. This is consolidated data so there are only 34 precincts, but at least it gives us a start.
At the outset here, let me say that the way the law is written none of this really matters – the city is going to have to go to district elections, and all signs continue to show that if they fight this, they will still have to go to district elections and they will spend a lot of money.
That said, even going beyond the issue of district elections, we need to get a much better handle on what these data are telling us.
Recall a few weeks ago that we did an ethnic breakdown.
What we found was that Davis is much more ethnically diverse than a lot of people think.
Data from the 2010 census shows that Davis was at that time about 65 percent white. The 2017 State of the City report utilizing the 2015 American Community Survey found about 56.5 percent of the population to be white. That would suggest current totals somewhere between 52 and 55 percent to be reasonable.
The first thing we find when we look at the voter data, however, is that instead of 56 percent white as the census estimate suggests or even 65 percent white as the census from 2010 indicated, the registered voter pool is a whopping 77.4 percent white.
Second, according to the State of the City report, relying on the census estimates from 2015, they found Asians represented 21.7 percent of the population while Hispanics were 13.4 percent.
However, in the registered voter data we find that it is actually Hispanics that represent the largest minority group at 10.6 percent, while Asians fall to just 9.8 percent of all registered voters.
A key question is going to be why that is the case. In the case of the Hispanic population, 10.5 percent is not that far off from their 13.4 percent share of the overall population. That can be accounted for by under-registration and perhaps a number of residents who are not citizens and thus ineligible to vote.
The Asian population is harder to account for. There are several possible explanations here. First, there could be a pool of Asian residents who are not citizens. But dropping from 21.7 percent down to 9.8 percent is fairly large for it to only be non-citizens.
A second possibility is that the census is picking up some of the large Asian student population who live in Davis. There is also a fairly large international student population, many of whom are Asians as well.
There is a third factor here. We know that the school age population is a good deal more diverse than the voting population as well. DJUSD is about 57 percent white or so and 43 percent minority. Does that reflect that there is an age component here as well, with younger residents being far more ethnically diverse than older residents?
One thing is clear, the voting population in Davis is a good deal less diverse than the population that actually resides in the city. And that becomes even more the case in the nine months when UC Davis is in session and you have a large ethnically diverse population living in our midst that are not permanent members of the population.
Do these factors change the legal situation for the city? Probably not. But it is interesting to note. And probably important enough to warrant further study.
Are there ethnic enclaves in Davis? The data point to a fairly widely divergent voting population. On the high end, there are 11 precincts where the voting demographic is more than 80 percent white, including one where it is 88 percent white.
On the low end, there is one precinct that is only 60 percent white with another that is 63.5 percent white. Hispanics outnumber Asians in the 60 percent precinct but Asians outnumber Hispanics in the 63 percent one.
In the six most minority precincts, there are 69 percent white, 15 percent Asian and 12.8 Hispanic. Meanwhile in the six least minority precincts, on the other hand, they are a combined 85.7 percent white, just 5 percent Asian and 7 percent Hispanic.
Something to keep in mind here is if the voter registration numbers really are under-reporting minority populations by the magnitude it appears, those precincts that are 60 to 69 percent white may actually be majority minority precincts.
This is a very cursory and preliminary look at the demographics in Davis. But, from the data, we can reach two reasonable conclusions. First, that minorities are under-represented among registered voters and we should probably try to find out why. Second, there is a good deal of variability within the city ethnically and there are some areas of town where the actual living population is likely majority minority.
—David M. Greenwald reporting