Posted on July 24, 2018

American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization

Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, Daniel Cox, PhD, Molly Fisch-Friedman, Rob Griffin, PhD, Robert P. Jones, PhD, Public Religion Research Institutes, July 17, 2018


Demographic Change: America Becoming a Majority Non-White Nation

Most Americans believe that ongoing demographic change, which will result in people of color making up the majority of the U.S population at some point in the next few decades, will have a mostly positive impact on the country. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public say that the impact of U.S. Census projections indicating that African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other racial and ethnic minority groups are likely to become a majority by 2043 will be mostly positive for the country. Approximately one-third (31%) of the public say these changes will impact the country negatively.

Democrats and political independents are much more welcoming of these demographic changes than Republicans are. More than eight in ten (85%) Democrats and nearly six in ten (59%) independents believe a majority of the country being nonwhite will have a positive effect. Republicans are more ambivalent. Half (50%) of Republicans say these demographic changes will have a largely negative impact on American society, while 43% say these changes will be positive.

Americans of different racial and ethnic backgrounds judge this demographic realignment somewhat differently. Hispanic (78%) and black (78%) Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans (56%) to say these demographic shifts will ultimately be beneficial to the U.S. Among whites, there is a substantial divide by education. Nearly seven in ten (69%) whites with a four-year college degree say these ongoing demographic changes are a mostly positive development. Whites without a four-year college education are far more divided: Half (50%) say these changes will be positive, while nearly as many (44%) say they will have a negative impact.

Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are unique in the extent to which they feel demographic change will represent a negative development for the U.S. More than half (52%) of white evangelical Protestants say a majority of the U.S. population being nonwhite will be a negative development, while fewer than four in ten white mainline Protestants (39%), Catholics (32%), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (23%) say the same.