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Graph showing turnout rates

You've probably seen lots of post-election speculation in recent months pointing to the conclusion that it just gets worse from here on out for the Republicans: The country is getting less and less white, and older white voters get replaced by young new non-white voters, the Republican path to victory (at least at the presidential level) just gets narrower and narrower.

It's not speculation anymore, though; on Wednesday, the Census Bureau released a thorough quantitative demonstration of how the electorate is changing. The data in the Current Population Survey (pdf) reveal rising black turnout and falling white turnout in 2012, but even if turnout rates shift to a more typical pattern without Barack Obama on the ballot in 2016, the constantly increasing non-white share of the population means that the GOP's door moves a little closer to slamming shut each year.

The marquee number from their study, that's been getting most of the press, is that this is the first election ever where African-American turnout exceeded turnout among non-Hispanic whites. As you can see in the excerpted chart above, 66.2 percent of eligible black voters turned out, while 64.1 percent of white voters did so. This shouldn't come as a total surprise, though, given not just exit polls (Pew Research predicted that back in December, just using data from exit polling), but also that some of the states where Obama's performance improved the greatest from 2008 to 2012 were the ones with the largest black populations (like Louisiana and Misssissippi).

That might lead to some worries that in a normal presidential year (one that doesn't have an African-American president on the ballot, and where voter suppression efforts are less conspicuous and thus perhaps less of a motivating factor), black turnout might fall off. The folks at Pew point out, however, that the rise in black turnout has been a steady one, predating Obama's candidacies, going all the way back to 1996.

In addition, you can see the larger trend emerging by looking at the changes in the raw number of votes among different races. According to the Census Bureau's release:

In comparison to the election of 2008, about 1.7 million additional Black voters reported going to the polls in 2012, as did about 1.4 million additional Hispanics and about 550,00 additional Asians. The number of non-Hispanic White voters decreased by about 2 million between 2008 and 2012. Since 1996, this is the only example of a race group showing a decrease in net voting from one presidential election to the next, and it indicates that the 2012 voting population expansion came primarily from minority voters.
We'll dig into more of the details over the fold:

Hispanic voters have been getting much of the attention in the post-election period (particularly as the Republicans try to figure out how best to court them without pissing them off more), but as Pew Research points out, Hispanics actually continued to "punch below their weight" in 2012. Hispanic turnout rates were down from 2008, from 49.9 percent to 48.0 percent. While the number of Hispanic voters participating was at an all-time high (11.2 million, which is 1.4 million higher than in 2008), the growth in eligible but non-voting Hispanics was even greater (12.3 million, up by 2.3 million from 2008).

Nevertheless, even with poor turnout rates, Hispanics become a more and more important share of the electorate, simply by virtue of population replacement rates. Hispanics are 17 percent of the total population but 24 percent of the under 18 population, with 800,000 young Hispanics, most of whom are voter-eligible, turning 18 every year. But we can't rest on our laurels; if we want to focus on turning Texas and Arizona into swing states in the near-term (and Florida and Nevada into blue states), that turnout disparity is what needs to be addressed.

White voters, conversely, continue to punch above their weight, despite their falling turnout: In 2012, according to the Census figures, non-Hispanic whites were 71.1 percent of the eligible electorate, but 73.7 percent of the voting population. Note how much that's fallen over the years, though: in 2008, they were 73.4 percent of the eligible electorate, but 76.3 percent of the voting population. (And all the way back in 1996, they were 82.5 percent of the voting population!) Meanwhile, even with the falloff in Hispanic turnout, Hispanics grew from 7.4 percent of the voting population in 2008 to 8.4 percent of the voting population to 2012, simply by virtue of becoming a significantly larger percentage of the overall eligible population over those four years.

That trend looks to only accelerate if you project it out over future decades. An electorate in 2012 that was 26.3 percent non-white overall is an all-time high, but that's nothing compared with where we'll be in 2020 (projected 37.2 percent) or 2060 (54.8 percent!). If Republicans can continue to pull in only 17 percent of the non-white vote (as they did with Mitt Romney) ... well, you can probably do the math. Even in the near-term, each passing cycle ratchets the electorate one more click in the Democratic direction; as the New Republic's Nate Cohn puts it:

If the non-white share of the voting eligible population declines by another 2 points, as expected, then the 2016 electorate will about as diverse as it was in 2012, even if turnout rates return to 2004 levels. The Obama coalition is not going away, even if elevated minority turnout rates are gone for good.
One somewhat disappointing finding from the Census report is that youth turnout seems to have fallen off precipitously from 2008 to 2012: down to 41.2 percent among persons 18-to-24, from 48.5 percent in 2008. Or, as political scientist Michael McDonald suggests, maybe that should be taken as good news, considering that the supposedly once-in-a-lifetime Obama coalition from 2008 essentially held together in 2012 even without anywhere near the same level of youth participation. (Though he also points out that voting, while young, is habit-forming, and Democrats need to redouble their efforts to lock down a favorably-disposed generation while they're still persuadable.)

It's worth noting that the falloff in youth participation wasn't limited to non-white youths; it was consistent across the races. The Census Bureau's report points out that voting rates among non-Hispanic white, black, and Hispanic voters in the 18-to-24 category all experienced statistically significant declines. The only group that experienced a statistically-significant gain in voting rates were black voters 45 and older.

How momentous is that shift among older black voters? That can be seen in the state-by-state participation rates. The Census Bureau reported that the five states with the highest participation rates in 2012 were the District of Columbia, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are civic-minded states that always are near the top in terms of turnout ... but the District of Columbia and Mississippi certainly haven't performed that way in previous years. What stands out about those two, of course, is that they are the states with the two highest percentages of African-Americans.

While women aren't becoming a larger share of the population (that tends to stay pretty fixed in the 50-51 percent range, thanks to their slightly longer life spans than men), there still continues to be a voter participation gap according to gender that slightly favors women. Women have voted at a higher rate than men in every election since 1996; in 2012, that spread was about 4 percent. The spread is more pronounced among African-Americans, with black women voting at an 8.7 percent rate higher than black men. (That, unfortunately, may have at least something to do with our current laws on felon voting rights.)

Finally, there's one caveat: The Census data shouldn't be taken as absolute gospel, since it relies on self-reporting of voting behavior. Something called "social desirability bias" (also known as the "halo effect") kicks in, where people want to report having done something that's considered the right thing to do ... even if it's something they haven't done.

That may explain why the Census reported the overall number of voters increased from 131.1 million in 2008 to 132.9 million in 2012, despite the fact that actual official election results showed a decline from 132.7 million votes in 2008 to 130.7 million in 2012. Still, the Census's figures rely on a sample of hundreds of thousands, making them vastly superior to 2008 exit polls, and presenting a really comprehensive look at the changing electorate.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu May 09, 2013 at 02:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  GOP's problem isn't only voters, but also non- (3+ / 0-)

    non-voters, too.
    http://politicalwire.com/...
    That link says

    Recent reports suggest as many as 5 million white voters simply stayed home on Election Day. If they had voted at the same rate they did in 2004, even with the demographic changes since then, Romney would have won
    •  Not exactly (9+ / 0-)

      That article came out (May 3) before the Census data was released; it relied only on exits, which seemed to suggest an even-higher minority turnout. See the Nate Cohn article that I linked for a further explanation; he debunks the 2004 stuff towards the end.

      A return to ’04 turnout wouldn’t have cost Obama the presidency, either. If the exit poll survey results are plugged into the CPS, and adjusted for the discrepancies between the exit poll’s electorate, the CPS, and the actual results, then Obama would have won the election by 2.6 points with ’04 minority turnout rates and 1.9 points if white and minority turnout returned to 2004.
      Nothing's set in stone, since, like I said, even the Census stuff is an estimate too... but that Political Wire link is based on a piece by Byron York, from National Review. York's certainly not what you'd call an honest broker in this debate. He's basically looking for ways to avoid the GOP having to acknowledge the need to appeal to the Hispanic vote, and just run a 'true conservative' to try and get those allegedly missing white voters to show up instead.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:21:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree. I was never more happy than when Romney (0+ / 0-)

      won the primary.  My conservative parents were so disappointed, just like when McCain won, and so I knew it meant we had it in the bag.

  •  Yeah, because their ideas suck & people are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChadmanFL

    Catching on.

    People don't want to vote for he-man woman hating, greedy bigots

  •  Our problem is midterm elections (5+ / 0-)

    Minorities and young people do not turn out for midterm elections.  The midterm electorate US always far older, whiter and more conservative.  We need a BIG GOTV effort for 2014 to hold the Senate, gain in the House and win Governorships and state races.

  •  Wonder how much Black voter increase was due to (8+ / 0-)

    GOP voter suppression efforts (which they're continuing). That could also hurt them longterm also with young voters.

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:36:24 PM PDT

    •  Big (6+ / 0-)

      That was a huge part of it, at least that's how it looked to me ancedotally.  You know, people keep casting this aspersion that black turnout was because of a black presidential candidate, but that would have meant higher turnout in 2008 than 2012; if it were that simple, the shine would have worn off like it does for everyone else.  

      No, the turnout increase in 2012 was almost solely a result of showing up suppression efforts.  We played defense like no other in 2012.  I don't think a lot of folks realize what has been going on on the ground in the black community for many elections, now.  You go to community centers, ans social service agencies, and churches and see.  This is not even to mention the culture of word-of-mouth.  For the first time in my life I made sure as many of my family members voted as possible in 2012, even helping my grandparents with their absentee ballots.  This isn't a fluke, and conservative Republicans are only fueling the fire.

      •  Exactly right (5+ / 0-)

        I've done some work in GOTV efforts in African-American neighborhoods going back to 2004.  Back in 2004 the going was very tough.  These communities just did not seem very engaged.  Fast forward to 2008 and it was an easy sell.  The black community was pretty excited about electing the first African-American President.  

        The work I did last year was the easiest of my life.  I was knocking on some doors the week before election night and a good chunk of people (probably half) said they already voted for Obama and the other Dems on the ballot, with the bulk of the other voters telling me they were 100% guaranteed to turnout for Obama on election day.  A few people in that community specifically mentioned Rick Scott by name as a reason they were excited to get an opportunity for payback.  The republicans honestly thought these people were too stupid or ill-informed to know when their voted are attempting to be suppressed.  They were dead wrong.

    •  Very big - I personally witnessed it (7+ / 0-)

      My workplace is very diverse with people of all backgrounds.  Politics was more or less not talked about around the office until early 2012 when more and more my co-workers, especially minority and female co-workers started openly airing their disgust with how the republican Presidential candidates were so openly racist, sexist and called President Obama every name imaginable.  It anti-republican talk only increased when the election drew near and Romney and his supports went hardcore right-wing.  Many were also aware of attempts to suppress their vote by the Florida GOP and Rick Scott.  

      I'm entirely convinced that Romney and the national GOP drove up the minority vote turnout FAR more than they drove up their own base vote with their demonization and voter suppression tactics.  The fact that African-Americans turned out at sky high numbers and almost more or less proves it.  And it seems they've learned nothing from 2012.  Their rhetoric has grown even more hostile since the President's re-election.  I do think this will carry over to 2016 even though the Dem nominee isn't likely to be African-American.  If anything they'll be worse off as it appears the GOP is hell bent on killing immigration reform, which will drive away even more Latino voters.

      •  Advocating > Voting (0+ / 0-)

        Most people think voting is the best way to make your opinion matter, however talking to friends, family, co-workers etc about the issues is far more effective.
        Liberals tend to be more reserved, questioning, marginalized/discriminated against, and arrogant resulting in us communicating why we find Republican policies absurd, Conservatives are the opposite.
        This is an advantage that Conservatives have over Liberals so Liberals have to try harder.
        However Conservatives have become so batshit crazy that it is impossible not to talk about their insanity.  

        We only think nothing goes without saying.

        by Hamtree on Thu May 09, 2013 at 08:39:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  indeed (0+ / 0-)

        I've even heard a few conservative friends privately confess on how they wish Jon Husted (Republican Secretary of State) had just kept his mouth shut and done his job. They felt that his actions of reducing early voting in blue counties only riled up Dems and made people more likely to vote. Sometimes you don't realize what you've got till its gone attitude. In the end Husted made it worse by waking up many voters and his antics of reducing voting for some counties over others fell a part.

        In fact, the occasional victory for the GOP cannot hide the fact that this country is fast heading into another era, not of two-party democracy, but a party-and-a-half system. And the GOP is the half a party- Larry Sabato

        by lordpet8 on Thu May 09, 2013 at 10:28:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Still way too many people who do not vote. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, ChadmanFL, Hamtree, thetadelta

    There are still too many people who seem to believe that not participating will lead to better outcomes. We heard this going into 2010 when some said that maybe the country needed to suffer so they would demand better choices. Still hasn't happened despite continued widespread pain.

    I think come 2016 we have got to nominate someone who can not only hold the Obama coalition but also expand it. We will only know if we have such a candidate if we have another vigorous primary season.

    We cannot take any group of voters for granted.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Thu May 09, 2013 at 05:32:22 PM PDT

    •  It's a self fulfilling prophecy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike

      1) The voters say, "No candidate is perfect so I wont vote until one is."
      2) The people running for office say, "I keep losing so I need to become more right-wing"
      Repeat.

      For various reasons it is mostly center and left people who do this resulting in candidates becoming ever more right-wing, which then reinforces stupid views.
      The ironic thing is that a significant majority of Americans support all most every Democratic policy position, and yet Republicans still win.

      We only think nothing goes without saying.

      by Hamtree on Thu May 09, 2013 at 08:16:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Disagree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stephen Wolf, Hamtree

        I do not think that the non-voters are concerned about perfection. My sense talking with non-voters on a regular basis is that either a) they do not feel very informed about politics or b) they do not follow politics and political affairs and do not even know what is going on. (The reason that people vote in Presidential years is that the information is in their faces).

        •  Hm... (0+ / 0-)

          you're probably right (though some do fall into my category). You're insight is a good explanation for why young voter turnout is less then old people; old people have had politics in their face for decades

          We only think nothing goes without saying.

          by Hamtree on Fri May 10, 2013 at 06:56:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Several kinds of non-voters (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Jarman, RandomNonviolence

          One kind is really low information and doesn't feel competent to vote.  I tell people it isn't a test, it is ok to vote for the people at the top of the ticket and skip the rest, rather than not vote at all.

          Another kind is more informed but has a hard time choosing, may feel ambivalent.  Friends and family can help.

          Another kind is more informed but  believes they are above it all and don't want to feel responsible for the inevitable disappointments.  They are the ones waiting for perfection.

          Another kind is so busy making ends meet and just surviving they don't take part.

          Another kind starts out interested but gets turned off by the negativity and attacks and shuts it out.

          Yet another kind, particularly young, is very in-the-moment and thinks they don't have a stake in voting.  They are of course mistaken and probably have the most at stake
          because their future is (presumably) longer.

          Making voting easier and informing people through the media they use would help a whole lot, as would shortening campaigns.  I think talking it up with family, friends and coworkers (at least the ones who. Will vote right) is the most effective way. Maybe more than regular GOTV.

          Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

          by Mimikatz on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:41:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  while you do have a point (0+ / 0-)

          you are wrong to disagree the fact is that the more conservative voters have been the most reliable to turn out really since the 1980s. That has pushed the country more right and the only way to change it is to get other groups to turn out and keep turning out

          In the time that I have been given,
          I am what I am

          by duhban on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:32:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One problem I have with the census study... (4+ / 0-)

    ...is that it overstates the raw vote by a couple million over the total raw vote compiled by the FEC.

    My understanding is that the FEC numbers are a compilation of actual certified vote counts in the states.  That's automatically the most accurate raw vote count that exists.  So something is wrong with the census survey results.

    I haven't thought through how to compare the census survey and exits.  Exits have plenty of problems, while Census Bureau surveys are more methodologically sound (partly because of huge samples).  But they aren't measuring the same things in this particular instance, so I haven't thought through what it means.

    What is no doubt true is the broad reality David Jarman points out.  The GOP is in real trouble.

    One way to look at this in practical electoral terms in Presidentials is how states keep moving away from the GOP.  When Dubya ran, Oregon was a nailbiter once and still pretty close the second time, and Washington was somewhat competitive.  Even in 2004, Michigan was a battlegound, as was Minnesota.  And more importantly, the GOP had states in its pocket that weren't very competitive.  Nevada became close for the first time in a two-way that year (the Clinton elections were skewed by being 3-ways and thus not useful for 2-way analysis).  But Colorado and Virginia and North Carolina weren't really on the map at all.  And New Mexico was a razor-tight tossup.

    Then in 2008 New Mexico proved too hard for the GOP even though it was treated for much of the year as a battleground.  By 2012, it was off the map.

    Now I think Nevada is heading the same way, and will be unwinnable for the GOP in 2016 (unless, maybe, Sandoval is on the ticket).

    Every Presidential cycle, more states are off the board than 4 years earlier.  The Democratic floor last year was 237 or 247 depending on whether you included Wisconsin as a battleground.  If you put Nevada in our column, treated as a battleground the last couple times, then that's another 6 in our column.

    Now, the GOP won't have a completely unwinnable path because the upper Midwest should still have some very competitive states for the next few cycles.  Wisconsin and Iowa won't be locks, even though they rarely or never vote Republican in my adult life (Iowa in 2004 by a hair was it).

    But the path has become perpetually narrow for Republicans.  Happily so.  And they're not going to do any better with minorities for a long time, who knows if ever.

    45, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

    by DCCyclone on Thu May 09, 2013 at 07:41:56 PM PDT

  •  Youth Voters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    Youth voters come in two sizes. Students on (generally 4 year) college campuses and those not on college campuses. I wonder if the census data has young voters broken out? I would suspect that a large part of the drop is from young voters not in school.

  •  Losing the youth (0+ / 0-)
    voters in the 18-to-24 category all experienced statistically significant declines
    This is a key demographic and politicians should be looking for reasons behind the decline and what they can do to win them back.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:36:02 PM PDT

    •  Unlike most other (0+ / 0-)

      demographic categories, narrow age cohorts like 18-24 aren't fixed over time, so we're not talking about the same people. The 18-24s of 2008 were uniquely motivated -- we may never see anything like that in our lifetimes. Fewer than half of them were still 18-24 in 2012 -- so, for all we know (you can't tell in this analysis), they might have shown up again in 2012.

      Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

      by cardinal on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:13:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting concept, the youth get older ;) (0+ / 0-)

        It doesn't matter that people shift in and out of that demographic. Political parties are losing the support of first time voters.

        To thine ownself be true

        by Agathena on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:42:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, but the potential remedy will (0+ / 0-)

          be different for a fluid category like age, rather than a fixed demographic group that only changes composition gradually (race, gender, occupation, etc.). There's no single method for appealing to "first-time voters," since each cohort has a different set of formative experiences, cultural references, and issue priorities. "Hope, change, and Bush sucks" was great in 2008, and led to record levels of youth enthusiasm. But those concepts will be as foreign to 2016's first-time voters as Watergate was to the Reagan youth.

          Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

          by cardinal on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:37:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The question is and will continue to be (0+ / 0-)

    how much impact gerrymandering and voter suppression will have on what otherwise would be a rapidly swelling Democratic tide. My guess is much more than we think, particularly in-state.

    From here on out, no one can escape the havoc wrought by the unmitigated Class, Climate and Terror Wars.

    by Words In Action on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:44:26 PM PDT

  •  I don't welcome the demise of the Republican party (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence

    ...when they can no longer deliver for their Wall Street masters, those powers will simply accelerate their take-over of the Democratic Party.

    It will be delightful to see fewer Lindsay Graham's elected to office, but we have to keep working hard to elect more Elizabeth Warren's, as well.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:51:08 PM PDT

  •  I keep on hearing how the GOP's life is limited... (0+ / 0-)

    ....I've spent an entire week hearing about Benghazi, Benghazi, with a little IRS sprinkled on top.

    In the meantime, GOP dominated legislatures keep on spewing out laws which make toxic waste sound good.  

    In the meantime, "sane" Republicans, like Charlie Crist, join the Democrats, making us lurch ever rightwards.  The Democratic party is starting to resemble the GOP of the 90s.

    Now, mind you, Crist may be an affable fellow, but his previous policies don't make him anywhere near a Democrat.  

    Sorry guys, unless we stick to our principles, I'm not nearly as optimistic as the rest of you.

  •  Gabriel Gomez (0+ / 0-)

    He can't become Senator Gomez for this very reason.

  •  Yes, but.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence

    There are a few things for Democrats to keep in mind regarding all of this, however:

    a) While African-American turnout was higher  in 2012 than non-African-American turnout, that doesn't mean that that's a long-range trend. In fact, Democrats would be wise, in my opinion, to withhold judgment on that for a while because there were two unique factors that may have made that fact an anomaly. First, there was an African-American heading up the Democratic ticket. And while that was true in 2008, there was added incentive by many of those African-Americans who may have felt that President Obama was treated more atrociously by his Republican opponents than other Democratic presidents. Secondly, there is evidence that a lot of African-Americans were motivated to vote in 2012, many who might otherwise not have voted at all, by the blatantly transparent efforts by Republicans, in state after state, to hinder people's right to vote with voter-suppression efforts. Unless Republicans are dumber than they look (always a possibility), it seems highly unlikely that Republicans will allow their voter suppression efforts in the future be as obvious. They actually hurt Republicans in 2012 due to the backlash against their ham-fisted suppression tactics. Look for Republicans to seek more subtle, under-the-radar efforts to suppress the vote going forward.

    b) Regarding these “demographic trends favoring Democrats,” lets not get our hopes up too fast about the potential of that. This kossack lived in Texas back in the early 1980's. Everyone was saying the same thing about Texas then as they are about the country now. Demographic “trends,” not only among Hispanics, but other minority communities in Texas, supposedly “favored” Democrats in that state going forward. However...those “demographic trends” did not end up actually benefiting Democrats in that state, for a wide variety of reasons (books could probably be written about those, so there's not enough time to explain them all here). In fact, despite those “demographic trends” that would allegedly “favor Democrats going forward in Texas, Democrats in Texas proceeded to become...a virtual endangered species. The Hispanic vote in that state never did grow in the same proportion as the Hispanic population increase (of course, subtle  ways of suppressing the Hispanic vote by Republicans have, in fact, panned out for them...after all...who wants to risk deportation of one's entire family by...simply trying to vote when it would be easier not to...rock the boat, so to speak). Meanwhile, thirty years after all of those "demographic trends" were supposed to have benefitted Democrats...Republicans are in complete control of that state to the point where no Democrat stands a chance of winning any statewide race anytime soon.

    c) So, therefore, sitting around and waiting for the demographics to overtake the Republican Party is not a good way to exploit these advantages.

    Democrats cannot assume that these demographic shifts will necessarily pan out for them. Republicans have a whole slew of tactics at their finger tips to try to counter the perceived benefits of demographics for Democrats. That's not to say that we shouldn't try to get maximum benefit from these demographic advantages. We should. But that involves a lot more than just sitting around waiting for specific demographic groups to get out and vote in greater numbers.

    First, and foremost, they need to be given good reason to do so...by the Democratic Party. In my opinion, focusing like a laser on ensuring that the Democratic Party is not only perceived as being the party that is more representative of all of the People of this country, but is, in fact, more representative of all of the People of this country, will be key. If the Democratic Party can start contrasting itself with Republicans more as the party that is willing to stand up for its constituents more, then these demographic shifts may have a chance to bear fruit.

    •  Great points. I would give (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Jarman

      one caveat to the Texas analysis, though. The Southern realignment was still doing its thing in the '80s -- so it's possible that Texas' demographic changes would have worked to Democrats' advantage, but they were overwhelmed by the countervailing trend of conservative whites switching to the Republican Party. Now the Southern realignment is fully mature -- there's no one left to switch -- so perhaps the continuing demographic changes will finally begin to bear fruit for Democrats. But believe me, I understand first-hand the incredible iron grip Republicans have on every statewide lever of power here in Texas, and how resilient it seems to be to, well, anything. So your caution is well taken.

      Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

      by cardinal on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:09:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, Texas is not the U.S. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cardinal

        ...they have a massive evangelical Christian population that has, essentially, skewed all of those demographic trends (not to mention a long-standing tendency towards more conservative principles).

        My key point: demographics do matter, but we Democrats can't count on demographic changes alone.  

  •  To put the youth-vote falloff in (0+ / 0-)

    perspective, you have to keep in mind that we're not talking about the same people here. More than half of 2008's 18-24 cohort graduated to the 25-29 cohort in 2012.

    Each cohort has a unique set of influences that play upon them. 2008's youngest voters were at their most impressionable, politically, when Bush was crashing and burning and "hope and change" were giving even the students at my conservative Texas university goosebumps. There was no such excitement in 2012.

    Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

    by cardinal on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:04:04 PM PDT

  •  I find it odd that (2+ / 0-)

    Anyone's definition, in 2013, of a "normal" presidential  election year is one in which there are NO African-American candidates.  Just because we've elected our first African-American, and that was previously unusual, in no way makes the possibility of having African-American candidates in the future somehow "not normal".  Framing makes all the difference here.  NOW is the time to begin to speak and think of African-American, female, Hispanic, gay, or other candidates as "normal" and being part of the "normal" election process.  From this point on we need to be thinking in terms of getting better turnouts for our candidates because they are better candidates, not fall into the sloppy thinking that leads parties to believe that candidates will generate higher turnout simply by virtue of their ethnicity/gender/orientation.  You may generate all kinds of first time voters on account of skin color, etc, but you won't generate second time voters without real substance/ policy.

  •  Can't wait to see the Gerrymandering (0+ / 0-)

    I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see the GOP literally try to draw district lines in a neighborhood like an etch-a-sketch to include just white households.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Sat May 11, 2013 at 07:13:25 PM PDT

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