Posted on October 7, 2020

Changing Voter Demographics Will Alter Future Elections

Derek Larson, St. Cloud Times, October 2, 2020

The Nov. 3 election will almost certainly be a turning point for our country no matter who wins. It will also likely be the last presidential election cycle in which the familiar demographic and ideological divisions we’ve grown accustomed to will apply.


Analyst David Wasserman at the Cook Political Report recently published a piece arguing that demographic shifts since 2016 alone may doom President Trump’s re-election bid. He noted that white, college-educated voters have grown as a percentage of the electorate, while so-called “non-college whites” have declined.

If turnout in 2020 were similar to 2016, Trump would likely lose the popular vote by twice the margin he did last time, as well as losing the electoral votes of four more states, due simply to this demographic shift away from a core group of his supporters.


{snip} The Pew Research Center recently published a demographic study that found the percentage of non-Hispanic white voters had declined in all 50 states since 2000, significant because all major voter groups except whites lean Democratic.

Ultimately 75% of net growth in the electorate since 2000 has been from non-white voters. As the pool of eligible voters becomes increasingly diverse racially and ethnically, the ability to win national elections on a foundation of mainly white voters will fade.


The combination of these trends suggests the 2020 election may be the last in which a national candidate can hope to win by targeting primarily older, white, conservative voters. By 2024, those voters will simply not represent a large enough block to secure victory without building a much wider coalition.

By contrast, the increasing number of non-white voters, higher turnout among college-educated voters, greater youth engagement and the growing partisan divide among women all suggest the winning candidate in the next presidential election — and likely those that follow for some time — will have to appeal to a broader, more diverse, more progressive base.