Reid Wilson, The Hill, January 30, 2019
Presidential candidates running for the White House in 2020 will face the most diverse electorate in American history when 1 in every 3 people eligible to vote will be nonwhite.
A new analysis from the Pew Research Center shows 66.7 percent of eligible U.S. voters will be white in 2020. For the first time, Hispanic voters will make up the largest minority within the electorate, surpassing black voters.
As recently as the 2000 election, more than three-quarters of the electorate was white. In the nearly two decades since, the number of both Hispanic citizens and Asian-American citizens has nearly doubled, while the African-American population has grown by about 10 percent.
The country’s rapidly changing demographics are hastened by the arrival of Generation Z, those born after 1996, who are just beginning to age into the electorate. Generation Z is both the most ethnically diverse and best-educated age cohort in American history — only 55 percent of that generation is white, compared with 74 percent of the baby-boom generation. Members of Generation Z will make up about 1 in 10 voters eligible to cast a ballot by 2020.
The diversity of the youngest generation means the slow pace of demographic change is going to speed up as more members of Generation Z turn 18 and begin participating in the political process.
By contrast, the baby-boom generation is beginning to lose political clout. Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will make up 28 percent of the electorate, still the largest generation by population, but only narrowly edging out millennials.
Those born after 1964 — members of Generation X, millennials and Generation Z — will account for a whopping 62 percent of the electorate.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week showed Trump’s approval rating at just 37 percent among all adults polled. Among those between the ages of 18 and 39 who were surveyed, his approval rating is below 30 percent. Among nonwhite voters, it is just 18 percent.
And Trump has tied himself so closely to the rest of the Republican Party that his dismal numbers threaten to swamp other candidates down the ballot.
Mario Lopez, who heads the conservative Hispanic Leadership Fund and who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, pointed to California, where a surge of Hispanic voters helped Democrats win seven Republican-held House seats and supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature in the 2018 midterm elections.
The changing face of the electorate is also likely to change the presidential battlegrounds. Traditional purple states in the Rust Belt and the Midwest, such as Iowa and Ohio, both of which are less diverse than the nation as a whole, appear to be trending toward Republicans. Traditionally Republican Sun Belt states like Georgia, Arizona and even Texas — all of which are more diverse than average — are moving toward swing status.
“It changes the map,” Barreto said. “Texas is a state people are talking about. Arizona for certain will be in play in 2020.”
“Democrats can’t rest on the demographics automatically shifting into the ballot box. They need to do a lot of outreach, they need to connect with voters. A lot of these voters are first-time voters,” he said. “In Texas, there’s so much more yet-to-be-developed vote.”
Lopez said the GOP’s harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric may gin up its base of older, whiter and less well-educated voters, but it costs the party its ability to reach out to Hispanic voters, even those who hold more culturally conservative views.