Future Election Demographics.

So, America is on its way to becoming a “majority minority” country: within several decades non-whites will out-number whites. These have been traditional constituencies of the Democratic Party. Moreover, women are more likely to vote Democratic than are men. In short, the Democrats think they have the future all sewn-up. “Swimmin’ pools, movie stars,…”[1]

“Not so fast!” say a bunch of political demographers.[2] For one thing, the Democrats still have to get through the 2016 election. In 2012 President Obama won re-election while receiving only 39 percent of the white vote. No one expects future Democratic candidates to do this badly. However, the President carried white voters in northern states, while losing them hand-over-fist in the South. Can future Democratic candidates count on the same level of support in the North? Hillary Clinton, for example, lost these states to Obama during the 2008 primaries. She may be the front-running candidate for the nomination in 2016, but lots of people don’t like her. A serious “Anyone But Clinton” campaign could sink her. Moreover, it isn’t yet clear that Democrats can count on breaking back into the South. A passel of—white–Democratic candidates didn’t do any better in the South in 2014 than did the President in 2012. The Democrats have alienated many white Southerners (of both sexes) by their embrace of gun control, gay marriage, affirmative action, and internationalism over nationalism.

Democratic victory appears to rely on getting the vote out among young people and non-whites. These are weak reeds for a number of reasons. College-educated whites and African-Americans make up two pillars of the current Democratic Party. However, North Carolina Senate candidate Kay Hagan pulled more college-educated white voters than did President Obama. What this suggests is that being a college-educated white person doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party has a lock on you if you don’t like the candidate. Democrats are going to have to do some thinking about why this might be.

Fitful turn-out for elections is another issue. Indeed, the prospect that they will turn out to vote may fire up a Republican base concerned about the division between the “makers” and the “takers.” Furthermore, Republican Congressional districts are white and rural or suburban. Minority votes don’t decide anything in these constituencies. In 2014, Hispanic-Mexican votes were not enough to shift control of the House or the Senate.[3]

However, in 2016, a Republican presidential candidate will have to pull some Hispanic-Mexican voters to win the White House. So, Republicans have a small and closing window during which to figure out what is their policy toward the issues that concern Hispanic voters. (Failing that, they will have another four years to figure it out–and work on their golf handicaps). Immigration reform is probably only one of their concerns. Republicans doubling down on repression isn’t a realistic long-term policy. Democrats betting that social and economic conservatism will not have any appeal to Hispanics isn’t a realistic long-term policy either.

The thing is, millions of Hispanics already vote Republican. Democrats—often Eastern liberals with all sorts of nominally progressive opinions—don’t actually distinguish between African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. They’re just “minorities” who should be loyal to Democrats. What they anticipate is that “minority” concerns will mean “African-American” concerns. It isn’t likely to shake-out that way.

[1] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwzaxUF0k18

[2] Nate Cohn, “G.O.P.’s Path to the Presidency, Tight but Real,” NYT, 10 November 2014.

[3] Nate Cohn, “Why House Republicans Can Ignore Latinos (for Now),” NYT, 21 October 2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s