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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

January 6: Slowly But Surely, Demographic Change Is Happening

We’re all accustomed to the reality that demographic changes are occurring that all in all are friendly to the prospects of the Democratic Party, at least as they have been manifested in recent elections. There’s plenty of argument over how fast these changes are occurring; whether they are at least partially reversible; and the wisdom or folly of relying on them. But they’re real.
Now the Center for American Progress is first out of the box with a study of how demographic changes could affect the 2016 elections. I wrote about this today at the Washington Monthly:

The write-up from CAP’s Patrick Oakford notes that two scenarios were analyzed: what would happen in 2016 if the party preferences of 2012 are projected four years down the line, and what would happen if the party preferences of 2004 are assumed to reassert themselves. This second scenario reflects the theory–understandably popular among Republicans–that not having Barack Obama on the ballot would cause the Democratic vote share to relapse to pre-Obama “normal” levels.
Obviously the first scenario would produce a larger Democratic victory than in 2012, with North Carolina rejoining the blue state ranks. I find the second scenario more interesting:

In some states, such as Florida, restoring party preferences to their 2004 levels would enable the GOP to narrowly win back states they lost in 2012 but had won in previous elections. However, in order to win back other key states that the GOP won in 2004, such as Ohio and Nevada, the GOP would need to exceed the share of support it received from voters of color in 2004.

This last observation is interesting insofar as George W. Bush won an impressive 16% of the African-American vote in Ohio in 2004. Does anyone see that performance being exceeded in 2016? I sure don’t.

Overall, the numbers suggest Democrats have a bit of a margin of error in battleground states even if percentages of minority voters drop a bit. But the turnout needs to stay up, and the whole proposition would look a lot stronger if Democrats cut into Bush04 levels among older and whiter voters.

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