Industry leaders. Early adopters. Trendsetters. This year's list of influential Hispanics spotlights 100 extraordinary individuals chosen for their insight and drive, and, most importantly, for the examples they set in their communities. Not all of our selections are involved in strictly business, but a vast array of professions that make up our five diverse categories: Government, Corporate, Education, Arts & Entertainment, and Other Vistas.
Trying to narrow a list of 100 influential Hispanics for this year's issue was no easy task. In addition to receiving submissions, we selected people who we think are having a great year: contributing to their communities, achieving personal bests in their careers, and generally raising the bar for others in their fields.
All of our selections share one trait: their Hispanic nationalities. But our list is far from homogeneous. With representations from more than seven Hispanic nationalities, some a mixture of more than one, and geographical bases from Florida to Paris, our selections literally cover the globe.
And when our Influentials talk, people tend to listen. We wanted to find out what they thought about government and social issues, some of which they help shape and others that shape us all. In a confidential survey of the Influentials, some similarities appeared among survey responses, revealing a few clear indicators of where the upper echelon of Hispanic leaders is leaning. Our results appear in the following tables.
Defining the Influentials
With nearly 77 percent of our list achieving graduate-level degrees, education is a precursor to success within the Influential ranks. Incidentally, more than 85 percent of the selected individuals had a household income greater than $100,000 – worth noting since the range of careers is vast, from musicians and writers to scientists, politicians, and educators.
Diversity doesn't end there. Nearly a third, 31, of the 2006 Influentials are women.
Most interestingly, perhaps, is the language crossover of the list. The number of Influentials who speak both Spanish and English at home and work – 52.9 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively – rivals the number that speak English exclusively – 41.2 percent and 58.8 percent. Looking at national origins, 41 percent of those on the list identify themselves as Mexican, followed by 20 percent Cuban, 15 percent Puerto Rican, and the remaining a handful of Spanish, Dominican, and Central and South American.
Political leanings, often a dividing element, show more unanimity in our survey. Fifty percent of our respondents – and not all of the Influentials did participate in this survey – identified themselves as voting Democrat, 23.5 percent Republican, and 14.7 percent Independent. On specific political issues this resulted in a liberal bent overall. At the top of the list, President Bush's healthcare policies are viewed as unacceptable by nearly 80 percent of respondents.
Comparing our 2006 responses with our survey for the 2005 list, it is notable that favorable opinions on every issue category, with the exceptions of stem cell research and animal rights, our Influentials' have grown less happy with how the Bush administration is performing, at least based on our survey results. The decline is even more noticeable when we compare 2004 results. Agreement with the administration's policies on education fell from 42.5 percent to this year's 26.5 percent, on the economy from 40 percent to 26.5 percent, on foreign policy, 22.5 percent to 8.8 percent, and on immigration policy, 40 percent to 23.5 percent.
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