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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Republicans Hope To Shatter ‘Obama Coalition’ In 2016

AP’s Bill Barrow reports on how Republicans hope to buck “the demographics is destiny” edge Democrats are anticipating in 2016 — and why many astute observers believe Dems remain in good shape. Here’s the Republican strategy in short:

“The notion of demographics as destiny is overblown,” said Republican pollster and media strategist Wes Anderson. “Just like (Bush aide Karl) Rove was wrong with that ‘permanent majority’ talk, Democrats have to remember that the pendulum is always swinging.”
…A GOP nominee such as the Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush, a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, has the potential to capture significantly more than the 27 percent of the Latino vote that fellow Republican Mitt Romney claimed in 2012. Meanwhile, Republicans hope African-Americans make up a smaller share of the electorate with Obama no longer atop the ballot.
“We’re not talking about winning those groups, but these elections are fought on the margins, so improvements here and there can make a difference,” Anderson said.

However, notes Barrow:

…Despite Democrats’ midterm shellacking and talk of a “depressed” liberal base, many in the party still like their starting position for 2016. Ruy Teixiera, a Democratic demographer, points to a group of states worth 242 electoral votes that the Democratic presidential nominee has won in every election since 1992. Hold them all, and the party is just 28 votes shy of the majority needed to win the White House next time.
Obama twice compiled at least 332 electoral votes by adding wins in most every competitive state. He posted double-digit wins among women, huge margins among voters younger than 30 and historically high marks among blacks and Latinos.
As non-white voters continue to grow as a share of the electorate, a Democratic nominee that roughly holds Obama’s 2012 level of support across all demographic groups would win the national popular vote by about 6 percentage points and coast in the Electoral College, Teixeira estimates.
“Could a Republican win? Sure,” Teixeira said. “But they have to have a lot of different things happen.”

Yet demographics, however powerful are not the only factor that can turn an election. As Barrow cautions, “…further analysis of the raw numbers alone ignores the potential of the candidates themselves to shape the election — not to mention dramatic changes in the economy, national security events or other developments that fall outside the control of any candidate.”
Barrow notes, however, that white voters cast 87 percent of presidential ballots in 1992 , but only 72 percent in 2012 — and few believe that percentage is going anywhere but south in 2016.

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