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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | July 26, 2002

Demographics favor dems

It's not even close. All the major demographic shifts in the United States favor the Democrats. As the following two stories note (via MyDD), Republicans face virtual extinction.

First is Dick Morris, who simplifies matters a great deal:

House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) expected endorsement of earned amnesty for illegal immigrants underscores the most fundamental fact of American politics today — the Republican Party is running out of white people.
True, ethnic minorities are almost exclusively Democratic constituencies (two exceptions: Cuban Americans and Vietnamese). And their rising numbers will turn the West, Southwest and Florida into reliably Democratic states within the next ten years or so. Morris is usually smarter, but he's playing an idiot in this case -- arguing that the GOP can reverse the trend by naming a black to the top of the ticket. He's shocked (shocked!) that the Condi Rice and Powell appointments haven't done more to endear the GOP to blacks. It'll obviously take much more than symbolic gestures, or the token minority. It'll take real shifts in ideology.

But as I've said, Morris simplifies. There are many demographic trends indicating the arrival of Democratic dominance in national politics. In an excerpt of their forthcoming book, authors John Judis and Ruy Teixeira isolate the following demographic trends:

  • In the 50 most populous counties, Gore bested Bush 54-42 percent.

  • While Bush enjoys an advantage in rural areas, those areas are shrinking as a percentage of the nation's population (a 17 percent decline in the past 40 years).

  • While Bush won a decisive majority of those who attend church regularly, their numbers are shrinking. In 1972, 18 percent of Americans never attended church. The number was 30 percent in 1998. Non-church goers represented 27 percent of voters in 2000, and they vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

  • Women support for the Dems is increasing rapidly, accelerated by the emergence of the working woman and modern feminism. Nearly 60 percent of women voted Dem in 1990.

  • Women likely to support Dems are also the fastest growing group of women -- single working women. These women backed Gore 67-29. They currently make up 30 percent of all women. College-educated women backed Gore 57-39. Those women most likely to back Bush -- homemakers and those living in rural counties -- are shrinking as a percentage of all women.

  • Democrats can count on 75 percent of the minority vote in national elections. And we are growing rapidly -- 10 percent of the electorate in 1970, 20 percent in 2000, and if trends continue, 25 percent in 2010.

  • Highly skilled, educated professionals back Democrats 52-40. In the 1950s, this group comprised 7 percent of the US population, today it is 15 percent. These Democrats are socially liberal, economically moderate. In other words, the so-called New Democrats. (Incidentally, this group really scares the GOP because unlike other traditional Democratic constituencies, they have $$$$).

  • Post-industrial regions of the country have become increasingly Democratic (Gore beat Bush 53-44 in these regions) -- places like the California Bay Area, Chicago and Boston metro areas, and parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. And while these regions boast high percentages of core Dem constituencies, such as professionals and minorities, they also deliver majority votes from white working class voters.

  • Those post-industrial regions are some of the fastest growing in the country. They comprise 44 percent of the national vote, and have grown 22 percent between 1990 and 2000.
These trends are not just hypothetical. They have born fruit the past three election cycles.

Bush's popularity was at, what, 176 percent in November 2001, less than two months after 9-11. Yet the Democrats staged a near-sweep of races in the 2002 elections, including the two gubernatorial contests in Virginia and NJ (both previously held by Republicans). The Dems captured over a dozen mayorships from the GOP in some of the nation's largest cities (including LA, San Antonio and El Paso), as well as two state legislatures (NJ and WA). They captured every single big city mayor's office in supposedly Republican Ohio. The Dems did not lose a single office they controlled. Indeed, the only race of national import won by the GOP was the NYC mayor's office, and the GOP candidate was a turncoat Dem.

If it was just the minority vote, the Dems wouldn't be poised to take the Maine governorship. And the entire Northeast wouldn't be reliably Democratic (or REALLY liberal GOP). The trends are real, and they are ALL working against the GOP. How they react to the challenge will be interesting, but regardless, it will have to consist of far more than a vice-president Powell.

Posted July 26, 2002 04:36 PM | Comments (2)


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