The November shellacking notwithstanding, yesterday’s Census Bureau announcement of initial figures for the decennial population count clearly indicates that major demographic trends strongly favor Democrats, with people of color accounting for more than three-fourths of the U.S. population gain over the last decade.
Republicans will spin the announcement to make it sound like good news for them, along the lines of this excerpt from The New York Times report by Sabrina Tavernise and Jeff Zeleny put it,
The figures will influence the landscape for the 2012 presidential race and the makeup of the Electoral College, with Republican-leaning states from the Sun Belt gaining more political influence at the expense of Democratic-leaning Rust Belt states.
According to the new counts, Texas will gain four seats, Florida will gain two, while New York and Ohio each lose two. Fourteen other states gained or lost one seat. The gainers included Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah; the losers included Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
And yes, the redistricting fallout from the shellacking will give the GOP major short term advantage in congress and state legislatures. In the longer run, however, there is every reason to believe that Democratic candidates will continue to receive overwhelming support from African American voters, in the range of 90 percent, as well as upwards of 65 percent of Latino voters.
GOP opposition to the Dream Act was largely based on their concerns about the increase in Hispanic voters — About 40 percent of the population growth came from immigration. Many of the Hispanic immigrants will not be able to vote for a while, until they establish citizenship. But that could change rapidly, with a stronger federal commitment to the naturalization process.
As for Latino citizens, Republican votes against the Dream Act should strengthen the Dems’ edge with this key constituency, as will President Obama’s appointment of Justice Sotomayor. Republicans always point out that many Hispanics are conservative on social issues. But when Republicans go out of their way to make life harder of Latino immigrants, it’s difficult to see how they can expect more than a third of Hispanic voters to support them.
As for African American voters, whatever cred the Republicans hoped to get in the African American community from the appointment of Michael Steele as RNC head and Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice as Secretaries of State, will surely be offset by the negative publicity given to the more recent ‘Trent Lott moments’ of Rand Paul and Haley Barbour.
As for the longer range, Ruy Teixeira explained in a 2004 interview:
…Pretty much all the demographic trends are going to continue moving in progressive directions for the next 20 years. Just as one obvious example, we’re going to become an increasingly diverse society over time. By the year 2023, the majority of children will be minorities, people under eighteen. By the year 2042, we’ll be a majority minority nation… We’re going to see continuing increases in the proportion of single women; we’re going to see even the millennial generation, as I mentioned earlier, adding about 4 million eligible voters to the voter pool every year until the year 2018. So I think if you put these things together…the potential is there for a durable and pretty strong progressive majority looking pretty far out into the future.
The red tide will seem to be rising in the months ahead. But demographic trends indicate that the political maps of the not too distant future will morph to purple, and then a lovely shade of blue.