Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008 | 11:42 a.m.
(The Sun has gone on the road to listen to voters and talk to political leaders around the West. Reporters will examine the economic, cultural and demographic forces re-shaping the region as they drive to Denver for the first of the two major party conventions the Sun will cover.)
PHOENIX — I've had two fascinating interviews here in the Phoenix area, one with professor David Plane, a university demographer, and Harry Garewal, who heads up the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
As Plane noted, the population of the United States is moving East. He doesn't mean people are going back to Buffalo or Cleveland. What he means is that people are leaving California and going to Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah. The intermountain West.
Moreover, Hispanics are moving here in huge numbers. Before long, Arizona will be what's known as "minority majority," meaning a majority of the population will be black, Hispanic, Asian or something non white.
The Census Bureau said in 2006 that 40 percent of Arizona comes from a minority group.
Leading Republicans have taken a hard line on immigration, with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's up for re-election, conducting sweeps of immigrant communities, looking for illegal immigrants.
Garewal from the Chamber of Commerce was surprisingly passionate about Arpaio, saying that he and other hardliners were driving Hispanics away from the Republican Party in droves. He said that as soon as the Hispanic population, much of which is too young to vote, comes of age, the effects will be sweeping. Add it all up, and it's a troubling long-term outlook for Arizona Republicans.