Economics may be priority one in the 2012 presidential election, but the people who are voting matter, too. That is one conclusion from a new report that predicts that Election Day 2012 will be a “showdown” between demographics and economics.
“The Path to 270,” a report released today from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, says that a sagging economy and an enthusiastic Republican base could wipe out President Obama’s incumbency advantage in the 2012 presidential race. However, the president could maintain an advantage due to substantial support among several demographic groups, particularly the fast-growing Hispanic population.
“On the one hand, the state of the economy, writ large, is the biggest factor in favor of the GOP candidate, whoever that might be. . . . That’s the biggest thing the Republicans have going for them,” said Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress and one of the study’s authors, at a panel discussion today. “On the other hand, the demographic shifts in this country . . . are very much in favor of Democrats and will help Obama in the 2012 election.”
A look at 2008 shows that the president had the support of 80 percent of minorities and only a four-point disadvantage among white college graduates. Meanwhile, among the white working class, Republicans had an 18-point advantage. But the minority share of voters is projected to have grown by 2 percent from 2008 to 2012, and growth among white college graduates is projected at 1 percent, whereas the white working-class share of the electorate is projected to shrink by 3 percent.
According to the report, even if white working-class voters support the GOP presidential candidate by a 30-point margin, as they did Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections, the president can still win the popular vote if he retains his support among white college graduates.