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Minorities donating little to presidential races

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 10:16 am •  Published: November 3, 2012
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Differences in income may contribute to the disparity.

Median household income for Hispanics was $37,759, but for non-Hispanic whites it was $54,620, according to 2010 census figures. Minorities also have unemployment rates above the national average of 8 percent. Some Latino immigrants regularly send money home to their families.

Both parties have made significant efforts to reach out to minority groups. But the AP's analysis confirmed a pattern, first reported in 2004 by researchers at Public Campaign, a Washington-based, nonprofit group that supports election changes: A tiny fraction of contributions worth $200 or more coming from nonwhite communities.

"The most important voice is the vote, and financial contributions come in second," said Arturo Vargas, director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "Not being a major source of financial contributions and not having a tradition of contributing to candidates complicates our development as a political community. Even if the candidates deny it, the reality is that donors are those who enjoy the best access to candidates."

The AP analyzed contributions to candidates' official campaigns, their political parties and "super" political committees that support them. Federal data do not include demographic information about donors, so the AP mapped donor addresses with demographic data for each census block. That's the smallest geographic area that the federal government measures, roughly the size of a neighborhood. That helped identify what donors were most likely to be Hispanic.

Donations from majority Hispanic neighborhoods account for only 3.5 percent of itemized donations through mid-October. That correlates with about 2.7 percent from majority black neighborhoods and less than 1 percent from Asian communities.

The gap is even greater among neighborhoods with fewer whites. About 2 percent, or $26 million, of the contributions came from neighborhoods in which 75 percent of residents identified themselves in the 2010 census as Hispanic.

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