The Changing Face of America’s Electorate Has Big Political Implications for 2016
One of several reasons Democrats did not have a successful 2014 was the predictably low turnout among some of the party’s key constituencies. But, as we wrote, 2016 is a whole different ballgame. Now a new Center for American Progress analysis takes a big step in quantifying just how different it could be — and how much of a headwind the GOP faces to retake the White House.
The study, by policy analyst Patrick Oakford, runs a number of simulations of the 2016 elections incorporating the projected racial and ethnic demographic changes in America. As voters of color make up an increasing share of the electorate, it becomes increasingly difficult for Republicans to win key swing states and in turn the Electoral College. In fact, the study finds that even if racial and ethnic groups vote in 2016 how they voted in 2004 when Bush won reelection, Republicans would still lose key states like Ohio.
Here is a brief overview of the simulations and their findings. Check out the full issue brief for more details.
Simulation #1: Racial and ethnic groups turn out to vote at 2012 levels and vote for Republicans and Democrats at 2012 levels.
This scenario means that nothing changes between the 2012 and 2016 elections except for demographic shifts. In this case, the only change is that Democrats would win North Carolina.
Simulation #2: Racial and ethnic groups turn out at 2012 levels, but vote at 2004 levels.
This scenario helps Republicans — four in ten Hispanic voters went for George W. Bush in 2004, while just 27 percent voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. It addresses the argument that voting patters among minority groups might change when Barack Obama is not on the ticket. But, with the demographic changes, Democrats still come out on top in the Electoral College. Ohio, which went for Bush in 2004, would turn blue again.
Simulations #3: Racial and ethnic groups turn out at 2012 levels. Whites vote at 2012 levels, while racial minorities vote at 2004 levels.
This final scenario attempts to stack the deck in favor of Republicans. That’s because they got a stronger white vote in 2012 than in 2004, but a stronger Hispanic vote in 2004 than in 2012. And yet, they come up short in this simulations as well.
BOTTOM LINE: New projections of the 2016 electorate show that Republicans can’t just hope for a return to pre-Obama voting patterns to win the presidency. They need to do even better. But instead of trying to actually represent the changing electorate by tackling the important challenges that matter to these groups, like passing immigration reform, House Republicans are gearing up to defund the president’s recent common-sense executive actions on immigration, rolling back important protections and splitting families and communities in the process.
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