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Demographic Trends Favor Republicans

Despite the conventional wisdom that emerging demographic trends would lead to the emergence of a Democratic majority, it appears that there’s some good trends for the Republicans.

Reyling on Clark Bensen’s PoliData apportionment estimates, Michael Barone finds, in a piece entitled “Demographic Trends Could Make It Harder for Obama and Democrats,”  that several states are likely to gain House seats (and thus Electoral Votes) at the next reapportionment.

Bush 2004 states Kerry 2004 states
Arizona +2 California -1
Florida +2 Illinois -1
Georgia +1 Massachusetts -1
Iowa -1 Michigan -1
Louisiana -1 Minnesota -1
Missouri -1 New Jersey -1
Nevada +1 New York -2
North Carolina +1 Oregon +1
Ohio -2 Pennsylvania -1
South Carolina +1
Texas +4
Utah +1
TOTAL +8 TOTAL -8

The upshot:

[U]nder the new electoral vote distribution, Bush’s 286-to-252 electoral vote margin in 2004 becomes 294-to-244. Bush would have lost in 2004 if Ohio had not gone his way; under the projected post-2010 apportionment, Bush would have won 276-to-262 if Ohio had not gone his way.

Maybe.  We’ll get to that shortly. But Barone follows with this:

The demographic trends reflected in these projections would not prevent Barack Obama from being elected this year and re-elected in 2012, but they would make it marginally more difficult.

Actually, they wouldn’t have any impact on this year at all.  The Census Bureau constantly adjusts its data, which impacts all manner of government allocations.  It does not, however, result in reapportionment.  That, by Constitutional mandate, takes place only once a decade and impacts elections in years ending in 2.

As to the first part of Barone’s analysis, it presumes ceteris paribus.  But ceteris haven’t paribused at all.  Arizona, Texas, Florida and Georgia (at least) are becoming decidedly more Hispanic and the Carolinas and Georgia are becoming more postindustrial and “ideaopolis” oriented.  Further, Virginia, Colorado, and other states are becoming more purple for a variety of reasons.

My guess is that Texas, which is projected to gain 4 seats, and California, which is projected to lose 1, will still be reliably Republican and Democratic, respectively, at the presidential level in 2012.  But the number of Electoral Votes isn’t the only thing that changes over the course of a decade.  I certainly wouldn’t consider all the states in either list above “safe” for McCain or Obama.

Barone linkvia Edward Christie

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    The second Barone quote strikes me more as saying, “If the projected 2012 reapportionment happened in 2008 instead, it wouldn’t be big enough to prevent Obama’s election/reelection.”

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  2. Regardless of which party these projections are thought to favor, as James notes, there are multiple factors at work in politics. A state (or a population) that is safely Rep or Dem today may not be so in the future.

    A simple example: there was a time when CA was considered a reliably Republican state in EC.

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  3. superdestroyer says:

    Of course, what they are ignoring are the states that did not gain or lose a seat but that demographics have shifted. Virginia and Colorado are two states where demographics are going to move from possible Republican wins to certain Democratic wins. In addition, Texas and Florida will eventually move to the Democratic column due to the massive Hispanic immigration and high Hispanic birthrate.

    Ask yourself this, how can the republican party survive when less than half of the children in kindergarten are white.

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  4. Beckwolf says:

    “Ask yourself this, how can the republican party survive when less than half of the children in kindergarten are white.”

    In the future, a lot more easily, as it’s the young adult and up generations which still bases impressions on old stereotypes about the parties, assuming racial divides in votes, while younger groups are beginning to question facts and economic policies, such as supporting business growth to help the poor and middle class (while supporting the wealthy all at the same time), or Robin Hood economics, which takes from the wealthy, but in the long term changes costs to actually hurt the poor and middle class the most. The fresh, young look of Obama is attracting the younger to him, but many of them even are already questioning his policies, which economists are calling foolish. Once the Hollywood style appeal has worn out, it’s fairly obvious that the more intelligent emerging new adult groups will start to actively compare Robin Hood economics with business growth economics, and history itself has already proven which is more favorable to EVERY financial class. As those who are not white continue to research the problems with the Democratic method of economic plans, playing Robin Hood without regards for long-term consequences, skin color will matter less and less, taking away countless votes from the Democrats. The Democratic Party has a huge flaw with regards to holding votes based on race…as this becomes less important and greater mixes are noticed, they lose that which the entire party is completely dependent on. Without holding on that racial divide, they have nothing left, which is what it’s the Democratic Party which can’t survive with less than half the children in kindergarten being white, although that number is far from accurate and as a nation overall, white is still the far majority of children in kindergarten. Several major cities show white as a minority, but adding the less-than major cities and their majority white children, they grossly overwhelm as a whole the number of non-whites who are fresh in school.

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  5. Barone is only capturing the tip of the iceberg here. If you look at how strongly the states went for Bush/Kerry, you see that strongly Bush states are +10EV and strongly Kerry states are -6EV. This is bigger than NJ switching sides.

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  6. M. Simon says:

    Pew did a poll a while back and found the American electorate center-right.

    Obama is going to have a tough time.

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  7. In addition, Texas and Florida will eventually move to the Democratic column due to the massive Hispanic immigration and high Hispanic birthrate.

    You are falling for the trap that says we can predict future behavior based on the past. Hispanics are not born with DNA that predisposes them to vote Democratic. Bush did quite well with Hispanics when he ran for governor, for example.

    Ask yourself this, how can the republican party survive when less than half of the children in kindergarten are white.

    I am not sure if you are making a comment about the Republican Party or skin color here, but I will say that 1) parties adapt over time and 2) again, skin color doesn’t determine voting, other factors do and the needs and demands of a given group of people will change over time. For that matter, who says a given groups will all vote alike?

    Too many assumptions are made along these lines because of the way African-Americans vote, but there are specific historical reasons for that behavior that do not apply to other groups.

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  8. Citizen Grim says:

    This is all assuming, of course, that a larger political realignment doesn’t occur, such as the one that moved the entire South from being reliably Democrat to reliably Republican. Or (going back further) the appearance of the Republicans in the first place, and the disappearance of the Whigs.

    Who knows? Maybe we resolve a lot of our current issues in the next 10 or 15 years, and a completely new set of issues takes the stage that sees California, Texas and Florida aligned, or Illinois and Mississippi in agreement?

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  9. Jim,MtnViewCA,USA says:

    “…less than half of the children in kindergarten are white.”
    Isn’t it true that white Dems have far fewer kids? Maybe I’m influenced by living near SF, but it sure seems that way.

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  10. EvilDave says:

    The problem is this increase in population is Dems (usually moderate) moving to Red states and turning them purple.
    They don’t move to the Red states and suddenly become Republicans.

    So, as moderate Dems move to Red state we risk those states flipping to Blue.

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  11. superdestroyer says:

    Steven,

    McCain will probably get the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that Ronald Reagan received in 1980. That was 28 years ago and the Republicans have not chanced. The only change that the Republicans could make is to give up on the idea of being conservative and the U.S. could have two big government parties.

    Of course, the next question is why does the U.S. need two big government parties when one works nicely in places like DC, Chicago.

    People who believe that the Republicans can make a comeback need to remember what Peter Lunch says “It can always go to zero.” The Republican party is on its way to zero. The Democrats have found the next Jews in the Asian community and the next blacks in the Hispanic community. The problem is that for the Republican Party is not a next Mormons.

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  12. Beckwolf says:

    “The problem is this increase in population is Dems (usually moderate) moving to Red states and turning them purple. They don’t move to the Red states and suddenly become Republicans. So, as moderate Dems move to Red state we risk those states flipping to Blue.”

    You forget that this works pretty heavily in the other direction as well, as the older population moves and maintains strong stances to the right, often changing blue to red, as well as the high levels of younger Democrats already slowly becoming more balanced, though that will still take a few years to complete.

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  13. Linda F says:

    In SC, the increase in population is in the northern part, in the Piedmont region. That region is generally Democrat.

    Making predictions about voting behavior on the basis of traditional regional history is chancy, particular when the region is rapidly changing, due to immigration from other parts of the country.

    I posted about this, in response to an article on The Next Right about demographic changes.

    My post

    The Next Right post:

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  14. [...] voters, increasingly educated “creative class” voters, and other such demographic changes that point the states towards the Democrats—not the [...]

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