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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

CAP Experts: Demographic, Voting Trends Favor Clinton

In an update to last year’s groundbreaking report, new analysis from demographers Ruy Teixeira, John Halpin, and Rob Griffin released today explores in detail the national and state-level demographic and voting trends as they exist following the first presidential debate. “The Path to 270, Revisited” takes into consideration the possible influence of factors such as a potentially large third-party vote, a widening gender gap, and differentials in campaign effort levels, as well as the basic strategies both parties need to deploy in order to achieve victory.

“Five weeks to go in the campaign and nearly all signs that analysts look at point to a victory for Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in both the popular vote and the Electoral College, while Republican nominee Donald Trump is behind nationally and is trailing on average in nearly all of the major battleground states,” said Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “Things currently favoring Clinton are national and state-level polling, President Barack Obama’s rising favorability, the decent if not great state of the economy, campaign fundraising, and on-the-ground infrastructure.”

Interesting trends observed in the analysis include:

  • Demographics: Nationally, the two biggest demographic trends are: 1) the growth in the Hispanic and Asian/Other communities; and 2) the growth in the white, college-educated population. The specifics of each vary by state, but states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Nevada are undergoing fast changes.
  • Gender gap: While there have always been differences between the voting choices of men and women, some of the polling is showing historically large gender gaps. Based on current polling data, the gender gaps for voters—all voters, white college-educated voters, and white non-college-educated voters—will reach historic highs at 38 percent, 36 percent, and 47 percent, respectively.
  • Third-parties’ influence: Though historically these numbers tend to decline before Election Day as partisan loyalties are activated in the electorate, the third-party vote has remained high in polling, and 2016 may buck this trend.

“The analysis of the national popular vote doesn’t bode well for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump,” said John Halpin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “The racial and ethnic minority vote is highly likely to increase in every swing state and highly likely to favor Clinton as it favored President Obama in 2012, and it appears highly likely that there will be a significant shift among white, college-educated voters in swing states toward Clinton relative to President Obama’s support among these voters in 2012.”

“The Path to 270, Revisited” considers the following questions, and elaborates on these findings:

  • How much demographic change can we expect to see in the 2016 election? Combining observed change in the demographic structure of the eligible electorate with expected turnout rates, CAP experts anticipate that the total racial and ethnic minority share of voters will rise 2 percentage points above its 2012 level, while the white share of voters should decline by 2 percentage points.
  • Will Clinton’s racial and ethnic minority support be as high in 2016 as Obama’s was in 2012? It seems likely that Clinton will match or exceed Obama’s support among minority voters. Clinton holds overwhelming backing from black voters, while Trump’s support from black voters is vanishingly small in many polls. This is in addition to his extreme unpopularity among Latino voters.
  • Will Clinton’s support among college-educated whites hold up relative to Obama’s in 2012? Not only is Clinton holding her ground among white college-educated voters relative to Obama in 2012, she appears to be exceeding the level of support he was able to gain among this demographic. It is important to note that Democrats have not carried college-educated whites in a presidential election for 60 years.
  • Will Trump’s advantage among white, working-class voters be large enough for him to win? To have a decent chance of winning, Trump needs to generate a huge margin among white, working-class voters, but he has only been running at or slightly above Romney’s performance among these voters in 2012.

Read the full analysis here.

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