Republicans Face a Demographic Tsunami in 2016

Ruy Teixeira explains:

How bad could 2016 be for Republicans? Pretty bad. Start with the likelihood that minorities, who voted 80 percent for Obama, will increase by 2 points to 30 percent of voters. Add to that the continued growth of heavily Democratic Millennial generation voters within the electorate, whose numbers will increase by about 4 million a year. By the 2016 election, Millennials should be about 36 percent of eligible voters and roughly a third of actual voters. […]

Hillary Clinton, the most likely nominee at this point, has a track record of appealing to white working class voters and in early polls has been cutting Obama’s deficit among whites nationally and in key states. That raises the possibility that Democrats could make progress in 2016 toward a decades-long aspiration: a Bobby Kennedy-style coalition that unites minorities, young people, and educated liberals with working class whites.

That progress would not have to be large-scale to create a lop-sided loss for the GOP. If Hillary Clinton simply matched Obama’s modest performance among working class whites (an 18 point deficit) that, combined with expected levels of demographic change, would be enough for her to exceed Obama’s overall victory margin in 2008. And if Clinton could match Obama’s 2008 performance among college-educated white women (a 5 point advantage), for whom her candidacy should have special appeal, she would triumph by 10 points, a huge gap in Presidential elections and the largest margin since Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984.

In other words, America’s demographics are changing so relentlessly in Democrats’ favor that Hillary Clinton needs only to match Obama’s performance with two key demographic groups–working class whites and college-educated women–to run away with the presidential election. I don’t think that even Chris Christie is likely to overcome this 10 point built-in advantage. And really, Hillary’s advantage is probably at least a point or two larger than this–somewhere in the 12 point range–because she’s almost certainly going to do better with college educated women than Obama did in 2008. How could she not?

So where and how do Republicans make up 10-12 points? Two ways:

  • Pray for an economic crisis (or global cataclysm) so traumatic that Republicans can win just by being the party not controlling the Senate and presidency.
  • Be everything the majority of the party is currently not (nice and respectful to minorities; socially liberal; indifferent to abortion).

In light of this, Chris Christie seems like the only Republican who can plausibly challenge Hillary in 2016, and things have to go just right for him to win. He, of all Republicans, has the political skills to shake-up these demographic dynamics, but there will be little room for him to make errors. But what are the odds that Christie can navigate the Tea Party dominated primaries to win the GOP nomination?

And Jeb Bush lurks in the wings.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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