TDS contributor Alan I. Abramowitz has a new post up at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball which should dampen the spirits of GOP progosticators. Abramowitz spells out the reasons why Republican hopes for winning back control of congress next year are unmerited. Says Abramowitz:
…There are important differences between the makeup of the American electorate now and the makeup of the American electorate then, differences that make a repeat of the 1994 outcome highly unlikely…
The most important difference is that nonwhites make up about twice as large a share of the electorate now…First, whites generally make up a larger share of the electorate in midterm elections than in presidential elections–the presence of a presidential race appears to be a more important motivation for voting among African-Americans, Hispanics, and other nonwhites than among whites. This means that the nonwhite share of the electorate in 2010 is likely to be lower than the all-time record of 26 percent that was set in 2008. Second, however, the data show a clear upward trend in the nonwhite share of the electorate in both types of elections. This means that the nonwhite share of the electorate is almost certain to be higher in 2010 than it was in 2006.
More specifically, Abramowitz adds,
The weakness of the Republican Party among nonwhite voters is a much bigger problem for the GOP today than it was back in 1994. In that year, 86 percent of the voters were white while only 9 percent were African-American and only 5 percent were Hispanic or members of other racial minority groups…Based on the average rate of change in the racial composition of the electorate over the past two decades, by 2010 we can predict that no more than 76 percent of voters will be white while at least 11 percent will be African-American and at least 13 percent will be either Hispanic or members of other racial minority groups.
Based on the 2008 results and the projected racial make-up of the 2010 electorate, Republican candidates would have to win almost 60 percent of the white vote in order to win 50 percent of the overall national popular vote in 2010. That would be even more than the 58 percent of the white vote that Republican candidates received in 1994 and much more than the 54 percent of the white vote that Republican candidates received in the 2008 House elections.
Given recent polling and demographic trends, Abramowitz believes Dems could lose up tp 20 house seats in 2010 and perhaps 1 or 2 Senate seats, a far cry from any 1994 replay. And if the Democrats pass an impressive health care reform bill, all bets are off.