An interesting series of articles from Commentary, the NYT and the Washington Post about the Republican party’s increasing demographic problem, and how it could preclude the Republicans from winning the White House for a long time coming.
In a nutshell, the GOP has a lock on angry old white men in the south and southwest, and they’re dying away, while minorities are having far more children than whites in those states, which could turn states like South Carolina, Arizona and even Texas blue.
Chris Cillizza at the Post walks us through some of the latest demographic data. He points to a new study from the Carsey Institute, showing where the trends are heading:
Using data from the 2012 census, the report showcases just how fast the minority population is growing among Americans younger than 20, even as growth in that same age group among whites is basically stagnant. The study’s authors write: “In 1990, 32 percent of the population younger than age 20 was minority, increasing to 39 percent in 2000. By July of 2012, 47 percent of the 82.5 million people under age 20 in America were from minority populations.”
The math isn’t complicated. Winning 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and 6 percent of the African American vote — as Romney did in 2012 — makes it hard to win a majority of the overall vote when those groups represent 10 percent and 13 percent of the electorate, respectively. If Hispanics increase to 20 percent of the electorate by 2024 or 2028, and the Republican presidential nominee’s performance is roughly equivalent to Romney’s 2012 showing, it will be impossible — or close to impossible — for that GOP nominee to win a national majority.
He points out that the “younger-than-20″ minority populations live in Texas, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina – reliably, for now, GOP states. If the Republicans lose those states, they may not win the presidency for a long time coming.
Interestingly, Nate Cohn in the NYT argues that the increasing polarization between white Republicans in the south and minority-loving Democrats everywhere else, might also make it hard for Democrats to govern as well:
The collapse of Democratic support among Southern whites threatens the party’s ability to control government and enact its agenda. Democrats will find it extremely hard to retake the House without reclaiming the majority white, Southern districts once held by the now vanquished group of Democrats known as the Blue Dogs. This November, Southern whites could easily deny Democrats control of the Senate by dismissing Democratic incumbents in North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Cohn makes another interesting point: While the south is turning redder, it’s already red. Even if twice as many southerners hate Democrats than before, the GOP still gets the same number of electoral votes from those states. Cohn points out something I was about to add as well — defining the national Republican party by the south is asking for trouble. The rest of the country doesn’t think like the south, the rest of the country is liberalizing, moving forward culturally, and the south is not.
That also means GOP moderates will have a hard time winning the Republican presidential nomination since crazyland won’t vote for them. And the rest of the country, is less likely to vote a candidate who thinks banning gay marriage is more important than economic growth.
Former Bush official Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary, has the solution, and he’s wrong:
It’s an undeniable empirical truth that the GOP coalition is shrinking, and it’s shrinking in the aftermath of two fairly decisive defeats, with the latter coming against a president whose policies were judged by many Americans to have been failures. Which means the Republican task isn’t simply to nominate a candidate who can fire up the base; it is to find principled conservative leaders who can win over voters who are not now voting for the GOP at the presidential level. This requires putting forward a governing vision and agenda that is reform-minded and modernizing, that speaks to the purposes of government and not just its size, that aligns itself with the challenges of the 21st century, and that persuades Americans who are not traditional Republicans. [emphasis added]
The solution is not finding “conservative” anything. Wehner is repeating the old trope that got the GOP into trouble in the first place: that only conservatives are real Republicans. Wehner and the GOP are not going to find a “conservative leader” who is “reform-minded and modernizing.” The conservatives running the Republican party are from the south, and hold the same backwards Neanderthal views as their constituents. And while all that fire and brimstone malarkey may work in the south, it doesn’t work in the majority of the country.
So long as the Republican party defines itself as “conservative,” and so long as conservative means “crazy southerner,” the GOP will continue to be, and be perceived as, the party of grumpy old (white) men.