Detailing The Demographic Evolution Of The American Electorate, 1974-2060
CAP, in collaboration with the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, today released a groundbreaking analysis on the demographic evolution of the American electorate over a nearly 100-year time-frame, from 1974 projected out to 2060.
We can understand if you are a bit confused — the Progress Report usually talks about the news of the day, not the news of the century. But this incredibly detailed report, which breaks down shifts at both the national and state level for race, age, marital status, and education, contains a number of findings about long-term trends that are relevant right away. In particular, it paints a picture of a transforming America that when translated into political terms, should provide a wake-up call to Republicans.
Here are our three big takeaways from the report, drawing on the authors’ discussion of ten big demographic trends to expect in the coming decades:
1. The racial diversification of the American electorate is picking up steam.
While minority voters are by no means a monolithic voting bloc, it’s no secret that they tend to vote more Democratic. For a Republican party currently focusing all of its effort on shutting down the Department of Homeland Security over a common-sense immigration plan, the chart above should be downright scary. Essentially, it shows that the minority population continues to grow fast, but minority groups’ political power is growing even faster. By 2060, the population is projected to be less than 44 percent white — driven in large part by the growth of Hispanic Americans. Pass comprehensive immigration reform already!
Not only that, but a constituency that tends to skew more conservative, the white working class, is in a period of decline.
2. Seniors’ political power is growing too.
Seniors are projected to be nearly 30 percent of the electorate in 2060, up from 15 percent in 1974 and 21 percent today. This is going to make it more and more important that elected officials work to protect key programs like Social Security and Medicare that seniors rely on, not launch back-door attacks as current Republicans are doing. Additionally, these shifts make it increasingly critical that we take steps to address the retirement savings crisis — a problem the Obama Administration (and CAP!) wants to address.
3. Single eligible voters — particularly unmarried women — are catching up to married ones.
There have been significant shifts in family structure over the past four decades. In 1974, just 30 percent of eligible voters were unmarried. Today, unmarried eligible voters are nearly as large a group as married eligible voters — 48 percent to 52 percent. That trend is expected to continue, driven by unmarried women — who have been a particularly strong constituency for Democrats. Republicans, however, remain opposed to a number of policies that give working families and single-parent families a fair shot to succeed: policies like paid family leave and sick leave, equal pay, better childcare, and a higher minimum wage.
BOTTOM LINE: The demographic trends are clear: as the authors write, now and in the decades to come, “political parties must compete for the votes of a new America.” A significant increase in ethnic diversity, a changing family structure, and an aging population reliant on important government services all mean that Republicans need to change their tune and get on board with smart, popular policies — or be left behind.
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