By Chris Wilson
Just to get out ahead of the pack a little, I’mgoing to go ahead and call the 2020 presidential election for the Democrats.
I'm less sure about 2016, though it's not looking good for the GOP. These forecasts are based on extremely simple math: Take thecurrent rates of turnout and party preference for the four major racial andethnic groups and plug them in to the Census Bureau’s population projectionsfor the 18-and-over population for the next 50 years.
If you simply project the present into the future, then it’s pretty clear that Democrats havethis thing in the bag—"thing" referring to the future of democracy. But we can assume that the future will not look exactly like the present, which is why this widget allows you to manipulate the percentages of each group that turn out to vote and which party they vote for. It’s when you start messing with the dials in thisinteractive that you realize the massive amount of trouble the GOP faces if itdoes not change its image with minority voters—or, as we'll soon be callingthem, “plurality voters.” Here, you can try it yourself:
You will notice that the default turnout rates, from the 2012 election, are very low for Hispanic- andAsian-Americans. This is because we’re measuring voter turnout for the entirevoting age population, including those who are not citizens or are otherwiseineligible to vote. Going forward, a significantly larger proportion of bothdemographics will have been born in the U.S. As the Pew HispanicCenter wrote in a studyof the Hispanic electorate published shortly after the 2012 election, “Thatvast majority (93%) of Latino youths are U.S-born citizens and thus willautomatically become eligible to vote once they turn 18.” The report wastitled “An Awakened Giant.”
Even a few ticks upward in Hispanic turnout have majorbenefits for the Democratic Party, which stands to draw less than half itssupport from non-Hispanic white voters by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, theRepublicans don’t have a tremendous amount of ground left to gain among whitevoters, who will shrink both in total numbers and as a share of the electoratein the coming elections.
Predictions are easy to mock. In recent elections, however, partisanship by racial and ethnic background has remained highly predictable in the face of countless calamities. The demographics of the electorate are going to change sorapidly in the next eight years that politics will seem unrecognizable, but these party loyalties may very well be intact. This fact is not difficult to recognize whatsoever.