Mostly False
Hume
"It is senior citizens, not Hispanics, who are the fastest-growing demographic in this country."  

Brit Hume on Monday, November 10th, 2014 in an interview on Fox News

Brit Hume: 'Senior citizens, not Hispanics' are fastest-growing demographic in U.S.

Fox News' Brit Hume said seniors are the fastest growing slice of the electorate. Above, two roommates in Brooklyn, N.Y. (AP)

Conventional wisdom is that the changing landscape of the American electorate -- i.e. the influx of Hispanic voters -- is good news for Democrats.

But Fox News analyst Brit Hume turned the idea on its head during his post-election analysis. The fastest-growing segment of the country is old people, Hume said. And that’s good news for the Grand Old Party.

"It is senior citizens, not Hispanics, who are the fastest-growing demographic in this country," Hume said.

"Hispanics are clearly the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, but their size as a group is dwarfed by the 65 and older demographic which has been trending Republican," Hume continued. "If the GOP continues to make gains, it may more than offset any advantage Democrats have with the ethnic groups."

The simple question here is: Are senior citizens, and not Hispanics, the fastest-growing demographic in the United States? (Hume did not respond to our requests for more information.)

Looking at the past

Every two years, the U.S. Census Bureau produces a report that breaks down eligible voters by race, ethnicity and age. Of particular significance for tracking the Hispanic vote, it culls out noncitizens.

This table, based on the Census Bureau data, shows that in no decade did the senior group grow at a faster rate than Hispanics. (All numbers are shown in thousands)

Group

1980

1990

Growth 1980-90

2000

Growth 1990-00

2010

Growth 2000-10

Hispanic 18+

5,565

8,566

+53.9%

13,158

+53.6%

21,285

+61.8%

65+

23,514

29,192

+24.1%

31,815

+9.0%

37,745

+18.6%

 

It’s the same case for the raw number of eligible voters, except for the 1980-90 period.

So in present terms, Hume’s case appears weak.

Looking ahead

As a general rule, we at PunditFact don’t assess predictions, but we can compare Hume’s sense of the future to what the Census Bureau tells us to expect. Here, Hume finds a bit more support. There is one decade, between 2020 and 2030, when the senior population is estimated to grow by 30 percent while the Hispanic group would increase by 26 percent.

(Note: These estimates look only at population, not voter turnout. The Census does not project voter turnout. Again, the numbers shown here are in thousands.)

Group

2010

2020

Growth 2010-20

2030

Growth 2020-30

2040

Growth 2030-40

Hispanic 18+

21,285

43,407

103.9%

54,827

26.3%

67,309

22.8%

65+

37,745

55,969

48.3%

72,774

30.0%

79,719

9.5%

 

The same pattern holds true when we look at the absolute change in population.

Group

2010

2020

Growth 2010-20

2030

Growth 2020-30

2040

Growth 2030-40

Hispanic 18+

21,285

43,407

22,122

54,827

11,420

67,309

12,482

65+

37,745

55,969

18,224

72,774

16,805

79,719

6,945

 

A few important caveats

In Hume’s framework, voters are either seniors or Hispanic, but of course, some will be both. By focusing on seniors, Hume seems to assume that age, rather than ethnicity, does more to shape a person’s vote. That might or might not be true, and it’s actually the diciest part of any comparison.

Also, there is no question that seniors actually get to the polls much more reliably than Hispanics. In the 2010 elections, about 61 percent of seniors voted. The Hispanic rate was half that, just 31 percent.

Now couple that with the higher number of seniors, 37.7 million in 2010 compared to 21.2 million Hispanic voters, and you can see where Hume has a point completely apart from how fast each group is growing. If Republicans get 57 percent of the seniors who vote, and Democrats get 70 percent of the Hispanics who vote, the Republicans come out ahead 13.1 million seniors to 4.6 million Hispanics.

We could get into more complex calculations involving presidential races, the electoral college, and the concentration of Hispanics in certain states, but we’ll leave that for fivethirtyeight.com.

Our ruling

Hume said seniors, not Hispanics, are the fastest-growing demographic. The Census Bureau numbers tell us that’s not accurate right now. Historically, the Hispanic population has grown faster than the senior population.

The Hispanic group will continue to grow faster until about 2020, according to Census Bureau projections. In the decade after that, the senior group is projected to grow at a faster rate, but then after 2030, the growth rate for Hispanics is higher once again.

Hume’s electoral analysis (based on seniors showing up to vote) was more on target than the trend he cited as evidence, but we only deal with his factual statement, which aligns with Census numbers in one decade out of five.

We rate the claim Mostly False.