GOP’s “White Guy” Problem

Simon Maloy, Salon, January 8, 2015

One of the big unknowns heading into the 2016 election cycle is the degree to which shifting population demographics will screw over whichever white guy the Republicans nominate for president. Rising shares of black, Latino and Asian voters have tilted once-reliable swing states slightly toward the Democrats, and turned a few red states into genuine toss-ups. {snip}

This week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a study on how shifting demographics could affect the 2016 presidential election, and it should scare the hell out of any Republican who still believes he has a lily-white path to the presidency.

First, a bit of background. The high watermark for Republican share of the minority vote in a presidential election belongs to George W. Bush, who won reelection in 2004 with somewhere between 40 and 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, 44 percent of the Asian vote, and 11 percent of the black vote. Since then minority support for Republican presidential candidates has plummeted–in 2012, Mitt Romney took 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, 26 percent of the Asian vote, and a barely perceptible 6 percent of the black vote. In that same time period, the overall share of white voters fell from 77 percent to 72 percent, while the percentages of Hispanic, Asian and black voters all ticked upward.

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{snip} CAP’s next simulation was to grant the Republicans’ 2016 candidate the same level of support from racial and ethnic groups that George W. Bush drew in 2004. This obviously improves the Republican’s chances, but not by as much as you might think. Florida, for example, tilts back into the Republican column, but by less than 1 percent (compared to the 5-point win Bush scored in ’04). Ohio, on the other hand, remains blue, and comfortably so. “For Republicans,” the report concludes, “simply repeating the history of 2004–obtaining significant support among voters of color–will not necessarily mean a win in many swing states, including Ohio and Nevada.”

There are, of course, a bunch of caveats and grains of salt to be had, and the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake lays them all out. And, obviously, elections are not decided by demographics alone. But as it stands, the electoral map already allows for Democrats to lose a few key states and still take the presidency (Obama could have lost Ohio and Florida in 2012 and still been reelected), owing in part to the shift in voter demographics and preferences over the last few election cycles. {snip}

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