The GOP Faces Challenging US Demographic Trends

Dan Balz of the Washington Post has an interesting article on the challenges that the Republican Party faces given current demographic trends in the United States. I am a firm believer that demographics is political destiny and trends do not favor the GOP.

Democrats have won the popular vote in four of the past five elections, though in one case (2000) they did not end up in the White House. In years in which they have also won the electoral vote, Democrats have racked up sizable margins. Obama bested  John McCain by 365 to 173, and Bill Clinton's two victories were in the same range. George W. Bush's two electoral-college victories were narrow; he won 271 votes in the disputed election of 2000 and 286 in his 2004 reelection.

What has brought this about? It's not just one thing -- it's everything. Start with the Democrats' success in the suburbs. Lang's formula is that demography and density have combined to help Democrats: They dominate not just the cities but also the urbanized suburbs that contain the largest share of the suburban population in America.

Democratic strength in the counties around Philadelphia, around Detroit and in Northern Virginia have squeezed Republicans dramatically. Increasingly, Republican strength outside the urban areas counts for less. "There's just not enough rural folks and small-city people left in America in the key states that determine the electoral college to offset that difference," Lang said. "You're out of people."

That's one geographical reality. The other, which became acute in 2008, is that outside the South, Republicans are in trouble. McCain won the South in November, but Obama swept the rest of the country by an even bigger margin. The same pattern holds now for House and Senate seats. Republicans may continue to win governorships in Democratic-leaning states, but in congressional and presidential elections the geographic divides are sizable.

Brownstein reeled off a list of statistics that all arrived at the same place: The South now accounts for a greater share of Republican strength than at virtually any time since the party's founding. That base is too narrow, as even Republicans know.

Demographically, the forces at work have chipped away at what was once a GOP-leaning majority in the country. The most important is minorities' rising share of the vote. Whites accounted for 76 percent of the overall electorate last November, down from 85 percent in 1988.

In the last election, there were more than 2 million additional African American voters, about 2 million more Hispanic voters and about a million more Asian American voters. All are groups in which Obama increased the Democratic share of the vote over 2004. Frey estimated that minority voters in nine states made the difference in Obama's victory margin.

Republicans can't reverse the demographic trends; their only solution is to increase their share of the minority vote.

If increasing their share of the minority vote is their "only" solution, the GOP is in a heap of trouble. The full article is worth a read.

Tags: GOP, US Electoral Politics (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

I agree, and I've noticed in Iowa

where Republicans have lost the last three gubernatorial races and have had net losses of Iowa House and Senate seats in the last four general elections, that the GOP is focused on building a more sophisticated machine to sell the same old ideas to the public.

So far I don't see much commitment to recruiting more moderate candidates in suburban legislative districts, for instance. Also, the Republicans who seem most likely to jump in the governor's race are strong conservatives.

I am sure Iowa Republicans will run hard on gay marriage in 2010. I don't think it will help them much, even in 2010, but if I'm wrong and it does help them next year, they'll only be planting the seeds for future irrelevance with the young generation.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-14 05:49AM | 0 recs
I would like to know more

about Spanish-language media coverage of Obama and Republican criticism of Obama's domestic and foreign policies.

According to Ben Smith of Politico last month, Republicans still have no outreach strategy for Latino voters, partly because they're afraid of angering the bigoted immigrant-bashing wing of their party.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-14 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I would like to know more

The US Hispanic press is all over the place ideological but the major one is based in NY and thus fairly liberal. I don't look at it as often as I should. I glanced at it when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated but not since. I should glance at it more.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-14 12:07PM | 0 recs
more good links on demographics

Ruy Teixeira on the "millenials" born between 1982 and 2003:

Between now and 2018, the number of Millennials of voting age will be increasing by about 4 and a half million a year and Millennial eligible voters by about 4 million a year. And in 2020, the first presidential election where all Millennials will have reached voting age, this generation will be 103 million strong, of which about 90 million will be eligible voters. Those 90 million Millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40 percent of America's eligible voters.

Even worse for Republicans, Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais point out in this piece that millenials "identify as Democrats by a ratio of 2-to-1. They are the first in four generations to contain more self-perceived liberals than conservatives."

Chris Bowers on the "truly frightening math for Republicans":

In 2008, first time voters made up 11% of the electorate, and 69% of them voted for President Obama (D+16). Roughly 4% of the 2004 electorate did not vote in 2008, and that group had a partisan index of R+2. If that same pattern holds in 2012, then President Obama adds 5.1-5.2 million votes, and another 3.6%-3.7%, to his margin in 2012, even if recurring voters from 2008 are precisely tied. On top of their already large 2008 hole, Republicans are falling behind by more than one million additional votes every year.

by desmoinesdem 2009-06-14 05:59AM | 0 recs
GOP Taking it on the Chin

It will be a long time before the GOP recovers.  The economic damage inflicted by Bush and GOP policies will not be quickly forgotten by the millions of people that are unemployed and those that have also lost their homes.  People have a tendency to lay blame and the GOP will shoulder much of this blame since they were in power for nearly six consecutive years until Obama took the Presidency.

by BillW 2009-06-14 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The GOP

They are only in a heap of trouble if they remain static on the idealogical scale. This is something that I can not emphasize enough. I saw Bowers make this mistake regarding the LBGT communities, and whether we will remain a Democratic demographic. That depends on the actions of both parties. The same , I suspect, is true of all demographics. The present GOP is in trouble, and thus, the Democrats benefit from this. If people begin to pereceive that the Democrats are not responding to their issues or doing so in half-ass political steps while the GOP begins to respond to people's concerns- this may change. Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing because that will mean that the parties have shifted left. The Democrats only benefit because the idealogical scale is so far to the right. You can already see how that change is occuring in small ways at the state level- Ny State for example, in which the debate over marriage equality is not as party driven as people wanted to think. Other partisan issues was driving the debate, but on the issue of marriage equality people were trying to woo some Republicans. I doubt this model with be a nationwide issue, but Democrats should not become complacent enough to believe that what's true today, will true 5 to 10 years into Democratic politics that are not focused on helping Americans.

by bruh3 2009-06-14 10:10AM | 0 recs
Yep.

The U.S. populace has been way to the left of the leadership for as long as I can remember, and with a pivot on culture-war issues the GOP could outflank today's Democratic party on populist/labor issues.

I don't think they're going to, but they could.  

Either way, both parties have to take a big leap to the left, and I don't see the Democrats doing it yet.  

by chiefscribe 2009-06-14 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: What?

The polling data pretty much confirms what he describes. The one issue that I cover (outside of gay rights) is healthcare. On that front, the public way to the left of either Obama or Congress.

by bruh3 2009-06-14 05:40PM | 0 recs
I don't know about healthcare

the polling has been very vague on this...yeah, people want universal health care, but how?

I believe the public supports a public option, but I haven't seen it in polls and the question really is how to pay for it.

America is the perfect example of "I want X but I don't want to pay for it" Let's see how many people want universal healthcare when they're told they're going to have to pay for it.

by DTOzone 2009-06-14 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know about healthcare

This is something I have been following for personal reasons since the late 90s,a nd more specifcally since 2004. Most peole want a government based program to the tune of a super majority. The details differ. Some want it to be the federal government. Some want it to be the states that run the program. The polling is universally consistent. It has been consisten since I first started to follow the polls on this in 2004.

The overall thesis is the same: they do not want it to come from the private sector. Most people already get they "pay for it" In context where we are paying twice the rate for lesser outcomes than other countries it's a little hard to argue what you are saying. Only the most superficial of analysis cold conclude tha twe do not.

The reality is that we are hurting because of this in terms of both overall economic activity and wages. Here's a link to a diary I did on the subject if you want to know more. It's more complicatred than I describe regarding the economics, but I cover the basics.

This is not the 1990s. What you see now are due to the DC bubble rather than wehre the bulk of the public stands.

by bruh3 2009-06-14 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Well

If you have any gay friends they are probably talking, as most of the gay community is , about DOMA, and the DOJ's comparison of gays to incest:

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/1144 7/former-clinton-aide-socarides-obamas-d epartment-of-justice-had-a-choice

As is being covered on every blog that actually gives a crap about gay issues

by bruh3 2009-06-14 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

Yeah- okay, if you say so. Sorry, but yeah- your post is straight (no pun intended) out of fantasy land.

by bruh3 2009-06-14 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: You see bruh

 He discusses what his friends think in response to my discussing the gay media and the wider gay community, but I am the one focused on what I think. Up is down, down is up.

by bruh3 2009-06-14 08:21PM | 0 recs
bruh, dude, you begged the question

nrafter said he finds his friends to be rather conservative on issues like torture, to which you responded;

If you have any gay friends they are probably talking, as most of the gay community is , about DOMA

to which nrafter responded that he didn't find his friends to be that upset over the DOMA thing, although others almost certainly are.

To which you attacked him and claimed it was all "fantasy land" as if you know what his friends think. You weren't discussing gay media or whatever, you were insinuating what nrafter's friends are thinking and then basically said he was wrong and you were right about what HIS friends are thinking.

by DTOzone 2009-06-14 09:02PM | 0 recs
Re: bruh, dude, you begged the question
I concur. Personally, I am pro-life"ish" and don't support gay marriage, but I do support civil unions. When I try to talk to my my gay friends about DOMA to get their take, half are offended that I am asking them (one retorted "How would you like it if I kept asking you about Affirmative Action?") and the other half are fairly passe'.
Every gay person is not an activist. Every Latino person isn't part of La Raza. Every Black person isn't part of the NAACP.
I'm pretty sure that Bruh3 is fervrent in his beleifs and God bless him. *But he has to realize that there is a large group of gays out there who simply want to live thier life in peace and be left alone. *
by xodus1914 2009-06-15 05:17AM | 0 recs
Their flailing will not be pretty

but I look forward to the day when we have a vibrant democracy in this country.

by chiefscribe 2009-06-14 10:51AM | 0 recs

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