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A glimmer of hope for the census, but many challenges still to overcome

Posted by Arturo Vargas  

04:05 PM Jan 31, 2010

 With the ya es hora ¡HAGASE CONTAR! effort now in full swing, I hope you’re seeing campaign PSAs in rotation, events being organized across the country, and are helping ensure all Latinos are counted.  We’re also excited to see the Census Bureau advertisements on the air, and the campaigns of others pushing for a full count are gathering momentum, including LCCR, the AAJC, LCCR Education Fund, NAACP, the Urban League, Voto Latino, MALDEF, the National Congress of American Indians, APALC, and many others.

However, even with the gathering excitement for the Census – as of writing, only 60 days remained until Census Day – the release of two Census polls last week show that we still have to do to ensure our community is aware of the Census, knows why it’s important, and feels safe participating.

The first of these polls, conducted by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, was released on January 20.  One of the findings from the poll was fairly positive – of the 130 Latino respondents, 72% agreed that the Census is “very” important to our country.  Among white non-Latinos, 57% agreed with the statement. 

However, other findings were far less than positive.  Two-thirds of Latino respondents had not heard of the Census, compared to 78% of African-Americans and 88% of non-Latino whites.  Of even greater concern, only 47% of Latino survey respondents said they “definitely will participate in the Census” – 61% of non-Latino whites had the same response.

According to statistical analyses of the poll data, race/ethnicity were not strong “predictors” of Census participation – that is, just because someone is Latino, does not mean they are inherently more or less likely to participate in the Census.  That said, other factors that we expected to be an influence – age, education, and income – were likely to predict participation; factors we all know disproportionately affect our community.

In a second pair of polls conducted by Ipsos and Telemundo – which interviewed over 500 Latinos – findings echoed those of the Pew study.  Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that the census was important to their families, communities, and to the country, but a significant share were unfamiliar with the census (nearly half interviewed had either never heard of it, of heard about it but knew nothing about it). 

So what do we take away from these polls?  While these findings may sound discouraging, we should instead take them as a directive that we can still do more.  If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’re already familiar with the Census, and if not, will be soon after reading through this website.  But we must all do more to make sure the word gets out to all of our community that the Census is important, it’s safe, and that we all need to participate.  If you aren’t already, join the ya es hora campaign and help get the campaign and its message of participation into your local community – post links on your site, distribute ya es hora materials, hang our posters, or organize local events.  Everything helps.  Census Day is 60 days away, and Census forms will be mailed in 43 days.  Let’s make sure we, and everyone we know mails them back.

For more information on the Pew Center Study, please visit: http://people-press.org/report/579/#prc-jump

For more information on the Ipsos/Telemundo polls, please visit: http://www.ipsosna.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=4663

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