How the American Electorate Is Changing

Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, November 25, 2016

A decade ago, New Mexico ushered in a demographic trend that is likely to shape American politics for decades to come.

In 2006, it became the first state in the nation whose voting-eligible population switched from being majority white to “majority minority.”

California has since joined that group, according to estimates, and so, too, will Texas by 2019, according to three demographic experts. Nine more states are expected to reach the tipping point before 2052, when, those experts say, the national electorate will become majority minority, too.

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Minority becomes majority 

Today, minorities make up about 38 percent of the general population, a share that is expected to surpass 50 percent in 2044, according to projections. The voting-eligible population is predicted to follow closely behind.

The minority share of the electorate — those capable of voting — is predicted to rise to 50 percent in 2052 from 31 percent today. But the change will be uneven, according to the analysis.

By 2060, minorities are projected to make up about 75 percent or more of the electorate in three states: California, New Mexico and Hawaii, which has never had a white majority. In Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, on the other hand, minorities will still not have broached 15 percent of the electorate, according to the projections.

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Nationally, the white share of the electorate is predicted to fall to 46 percent in 2060 from 69 percent this year.

The Hispanic share is predicted to rise to 27 percent from 13 percent; the black share is expected to rise one point to 13 percent from 12 percent; and the share that is Asian or “other” is expected to double to 14 percent from 7 percent.

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A more representative nation

Since the mid-1970s, the voting-eligible population has become less diverse than the voting-age population, a group that includes noncitizens. But the trend is reversing.

After decades of growth and stabilization, the electorate today is several percentage points whiter than the broader population of American adults. But, in the years to come, that gap is projected to narrow: By 2060, the electorate is projected to be 46 percent white, just one percentage point higher than the white share of the voting-age population.

The opposite is true for Hispanics, a population that today makes up 13 percent of the electorate, but 16 percent of the voting-age population. By 2060, those shares will equalize at 27 percent.

 

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