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Changing Demographics Could Change AZ's Political Landscape

A new report this morning suggests the high birth rate of Hispanics could turn politics in the state on its head in less than two decades.

The key is demographics. While Hispanics currently make up only about 30 percent of the population, they account for nearly 40 percent of all births. Bill Hart of the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at Arizona State University said while most of the new voters would register independent, enough would opt to become Democrats to possibly put that party ahead of the GOP for the first time since 1984. Hart acknowledged that Hispanics traditionally vote in lower percentages than the rest of the population. But he said even if that pattern remains, it does not matter. It's a simple question of the growing number of Hispanic youths who are citizens.

"They're going to be here, they're going to grow up, become voter age," Hart said. "Even if they keep the same registration patterns as they have been, there are still going to be so many of them that they're going to, according to a linear straight ahead projection, they're going to swell the ranks of Democrats and independents."

Hart agreed that Republicans are more aligned with Hispanics on some issues like abortion. And he said how Latinos vote in the future could depend on the specific policy issues on the agenda. But he said history has shown Hispanics to be far more friendly to Democrats, citing a 2010 exit poll by the Pew Hispanic Center which found that just 28 percent of Hispanics backed Jan Brewer in her successful election effort.