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With all the glum feelings I've been seeing about the midterms lately, I want to point to some trends in the national electorate that look like they'll favor the Democratic Party in the long term.  I would refer you to UConn's Public Opinion Archives, which have an awesome collection of nationwide Presidential exit polls dating back to 1976.

The most promising trend for us is the ever-declining share of the national electorate made up by white voters over time.  Watch the white vote go down just about every year (in parentheses is the percentage of the white vote received by the Democratic candidate):

1976: 89 (48%)
1980: 88 (36% - an independent received 8%)
1984: 86 (34%)
1988: 85 (40%)
1992: 87 (39% - an independent received 21%)
1996: 83 (44% - an independent received 9%)
2000: 81 (42%)
2004: 77 (41%)
2008: 74 (43%)
2012: 72 (39%)

On average, the white vote has gone down (and conversely, the minority vote has gone up) by 1.9% every four years.  Let's be conservative and say the trend is slowing down, as it appears to be, and use a figure of 1.5%.  If the trend were to hold (which, of course, it may not), then this is what we'll be looking at in the near future:

2016: 71
2020: 69
2024: 68
2028: 66
2032: 65

Since 2000, the white vote has held steady at about 40% for Democrats.  Let's now look at how the black vote has changed over time:

1976: 9 (83%)
1980: 10 (83%)
1984: 10 (91%)
1988: 10 (89%)
1992: 8 (83% - an independent received 7%)
1996: 10 (84% - an independent received 4%)
2000: 10 (90%)
2004: 11 (88%)
2008: 13 (95%)
2012: 13 (93%)

The black vote held steady at around 10%, until rising suddenly by 3% over the 8 years between 2000 and 2008.  This is probably the Obama effect; we'll have to see if the increase holds over time.  It has also never slipped below 80% for Democrats, and has hovered around 90% even before Obama's candidacy.  The black vote is by far the most steady of all demographics, and I think it's safe to say that it will remain steady in the near future.  Now let's look the Hispanic vote:

1976: 1 (82%)
1980: 2 (56% - an independent received 7%)
1984: 3 (66%)
1988: 3 (70%)
1992: 2 (61% - an independent received 14%)
1996: 5 (73% - an independent received 6%)
2000: 7 (62%)
2004: 8 (53%)
2008: 9 (67%)
2012: 10 (71%)

I'm only going to refer to the data since 2000, since the sample size is rather small prior to that.  The group swung heavily towards Bush in 2004, but also swung towards Obama (and away from the overall electorate) in 2012.  This tells me that Hispanics are not quite locked in to a voting pattern yet, but do definitely favor Democrats.  I think we'll need to see the 2016 data to see if they stay in the 70's or drop back down again without Obama on the ballot, but the steady 1% rise in their share of the electorate seems like a definite trend.  If it continues, this is how it will play out in the near future:

2016: 11
2020: 12
2024: 13
2028: 14
2032: 15

That is an absolutely massive chunk of the electorate, and if they continue to support Democrats at levels over two thirds, it is a serious problem for the Republican Party.

Of course, this is not new knowledge to anyone who follows politics.  But the fascinating story told by these numbers is that as the electorate grows more minority-heavy, Democrats are less effected by their 40-ish% ceiling with white voters.  Obama received 2% less of the white vote the second time around compared to Kerry, but outperformed Kerry by 3% overall.  A Democrat can get 40% of the white vote and still win comfortably; if that holds, how is it possible for Republicans to win the White House?

Of course, people will say that no party has ever held the White House for more than x terms, and that it almost never happens for more than 3 in a row.  I'm not saying it necessarily will.  But what I am saying is that the racial component to elections is a relatively new phenomenon, and it may lead to trends we haven't seen before.


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Comment Preferences

  •  assuming elections continue (3+ / 0-)

    people who have had power for a very long time will, I think, do what they can to preserve that power, including rigging elections or canceling them.

    Or am I being pessimistic?

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 06:52:55 PM PDT

  •  I'm less concerned about the Republican Party (12+ / 0-)

    and more concerned about the emergence of a strong libertarian presence in the next 10-15 years.

    People consider Daily Kos to be a reality-based community, and while that is usually true, I find that we can be an echo chamber at times.

    While I agree that America is more liberal than currently credited in the media, the given fact is that most presidential elections stay within single digits.  Even at his most popular (2008), President Obama only won 7.2% - not that great a margin all things considered.  His margin was even lower in 2012, at 4.0%

    Whether this community wants to believe it or shove their heads in the sand, there is a sizable portion of Millennials (my generation, and those that will make up a big voting block as we project out into the 2020s and 2030s) that have strong libertarian tendencies.  

    I can't understand why that is so, but I think it's a reflection that all the "Hope and Change" that Obama was campaigning on in 2008 - that of transformational government change - did not happen at all.  But the Republicans are so batshit crazy that they are not an option either.  So the other alternative are social liberals but without the religion and label of being Democrats - that's your Libertarians.  It's really frustrating trying to educate my peers that current libertarians are just as bad as Republicans, they just hide their terrible corporate welfare policies better.

    "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

    by mconvente on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 06:57:10 PM PDT

    •  Why? Because If You Don't Have Gray Hair (7+ / 0-)

      you've never seen a serious economic liberal policy passed, nor have you known liberalism to have general approval.

      Your choice is between two parties that run empire and security state, both of which degrade the people to the benefit of the rich, and a fairy tale party that says eliminating most government will fix everything.

      Because of the security state and empire problems, it's a plausible message.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 07:03:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hope and Change hurt a lot. (4+ / 0-)

      I think a lot of people underestimate the amount that promising Hope and Change and then not only utterly failing to deliver, but not even really trying hurt the Democratic Party in the eyes of younger voters.

      It instilled a strong sense of cynicism and distrust in them, making them natural targets for libertarians.

  •  When the D's are R-lite, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  If by "we" you mean "Wall Street" then yes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Dave925, aseth, happymisanthropy

    they're paying good money to keep it that way.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 07:56:44 PM PDT

  •  "Of course, people will say (3+ / 0-)
    that no party has ever held the White House for more than x terms, and that it almost never happens for more than 3 in a row.
    Yep, that.

    Now, by itself, a pattern like that is meaningless without an underlying explanation. But the explanation is pretty compelling in this case:

    First, it's tough for a governing regime to stay fresh and keep its coalitions together. It's easier to alienate voters when you're in power.

    Second, in the post-Civil War era, the two parties have been able to adapt to changing conditions by constantly modifying their electoral coalitions. The Republicans will be no exception. I'm not sure how they'll do it or how long it will take -- but they'll either start to win over Hispanics, chip off another piece of our constituency, or perhaps dominate the next generation to become voting eligible, as they come of age under an unpopular Democratic president.


    You won't believe what this gay dolphin said to a homeless child. First you'll be angry, but then at the 1:34 mark your nose will bleed tears of joy.

    by cardinal on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 08:01:45 PM PDT

  •  Keeping The WH Won't Be A Problem in 2016..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, nocynicism, RandomNonviolence

    Hillary for President is supported by 73% of the Democratic party.  Republicans have no one near that amount of cohesive support for any of their people.  

    Chris Christie was the best potential candidate they had warming up in the bull pin.  Now's he's turned himself into a middle aged jackass.

    Keeping the Senate is the big worry.  

    •  Not in 2016 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snapples, RandomNonviolence

      Even if we lose it in 2014 we have the potential to pick up enough seats in 2016 to get a 60 seat majority. Especially if Hillary has the coattails I think she will.

      Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

      by Matt Z on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 08:24:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Agree.....And You'll Notice She's Showing Up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        everywhere.  She's making well publicized appearances w/ the Clinton Foundation, as well as speaking @ other large events.

        She's running.  I don't have a single doubt.  But, I am worried about her tired appearance.  She's really aged since 2008.  I hope her health is OK.  

  •  It's a mistake to focus just on the White House. (7+ / 0-)

    To gain power, we need to start at the local level and hit every campaign from city to county to state to national. Put boots on the ground. Donate what you can. Do not let a chance to talk with your neighbors pass you by. This is the only way to take back the country, and it's the winning way.

    •  School Board elections are nice and all, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nocynicism, Superpole

      but school boards and mayors don't get us into or out of wars. Nor do they appoint Supreme Court justices, or decide to allow gays in the military. Don't underestimate the importance of the American presidency. Especially with the GOP of today, the difference between Republican and Democratic administrations is hugely impactful.

      •  Of course they don't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, mattc129

        They are simply the driving force that chooses the textbooks and decides the lessons that our children learn and take into their adult years.

        They are the low level offices that lead to careers as state legislators and sometimes Congressmen.

        If you want to see the reason FOX News is successful, the reason that Republicans are still getting elected at so many levels of government, then start by looking at school boards and mayors.

        We as Democrats tend to overlook this basic entry point to building our bench in districts across the country.

        Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

        by Phoenix Rising on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 12:57:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We care too much about one election over another . ALL Elections matter. WH is nice, but if the Thugs win the senate in 2014, It will be a nightmare for the president.
      We MUST play all elections equally.

  •  Yeah, I think the Dems are safe bets for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the White House for the indefinite future. Someone upthread noted that voting coalitions change and evolve and that is how the Republican party is likely to survive. But the thing is that the Republican party by its nature is completely resistant to either changing its platform or broadening its coalition. The Democratic Party may look very different than it does now 20 years from now. But I don't think the Republican party will.

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 08:27:57 PM PDT

  •  You've put together some very interesting info. (5+ / 0-)

    The Hispanic vote volatility is notable.  

    Republican presidential candidates who did best among Hispanics (Reagan and Bush2) were southwestern governors who had experience reaching out to that community, and who managed to keep their more racist supporters out of the news.

    A few of today's Repubs have realized the need for the first part of that mix. But in the Obama era, GOP racists have become more vocal; keeping them quiet (and hiding the videos) is going to be a challenge.

  •  Be careful what you wish for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, quiet in NC, RandomNonviolence

    One of the hallmarks of any one party political system is its corruption.  If the White House stays in any party's hands for election cycle after election cycle, the result will be unhealthy for the nation, regardless of the policies espoused by that party.  

    However, if our plutocrats are still as dominant in 2020 and 2024 as they are now, and if the demographics and voting patterns are as the trends suggest, then I am confident that some means akin to gerrymandering and vote suppression will be found to change the results.  The fact is, the President is not selected by a popular vote, and if the current means of selection consistently produces a result contrary to the interests of our plutocratic overlords, and if we do nothing to restore actual democracy, then we should all assume that those elites will find a way to change the rules so that they can win.  

  •  Interesting diary. Nice research. (4+ / 0-)

    There are a couple of factors that I can see influencing the Presidential elections.

    The first is how the Republicans present themselves. This country won't elect a Rick Santorum, a Ted Cruz or some other nut job. If the Republicans choose to run someone like that, the Democrats could run Kermit the Frog and win.

    The second factor is whether or not the Democrats continue their neo-liberal ways. Despite the conventional wisdom here, Mrs. Clinton does not have a lock on the Presidency, though she apparently has a lock on the Democratic nomination.

    If the Republicans nominate someone reasonably sane, who doesn't self-destruct ala Romney, and if they reach out to the conservative segments of demographic blocs such as the Hispanics, and if the Democrats nominate a DLCer like Mrs. Clinton and continue using the Third Way playbook, the Democrats could very well lose the White House in 2016.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 09:10:19 PM PDT

  •  I'd like Dems to win majority of white votes, too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I think it's well within the realm of possibility, over the next decade or two. It means winning another 10% or so; that's feasible.

  •  I don't think Hispanics are that volutile. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    camlbacker, RandomNonviolence

    In your sample, they have changed, yes. But I don't think that was because of the candidate. I think prior to 2008, they were willing to vote GOP, but then the racism really became apparent, and I believe they are now reliable Democrats, with some older Cuban holdouts.

    I think California is the example that we can expect nationwide over the next decade or two. When the California GOP showed its racist underbelly, Hispanics became Democrats, and the California GOP is mostly history now.

    I think we can expect that when Latinos vote, they will vote Dem. The problem is getting them to vote.

    Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

    by pucklady on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 02:41:47 AM PDT

  •  NOPE (0+ / 0-)

    Yet another "analysis" looking at some numbers, but not economic numbers?

    i.e. record high child poverty rate, a still crappy economy with feeble job growth, etc.

    the notion voter behavior occurs in some sort of economic vacuum, that their personal economic situation just doesn't matter, is nonsense.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 05:22:26 AM PDT

  •  As long as the straight, white male candidate (0+ / 0-)

    is on their ticket, we win!!!

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 05:30:57 AM PDT

  •  Well, you got to wonder when gerrymandering (0+ / 0-)

    won't help.  If the percentage is dropping so fast eventually you just can't Gerrymander an area to get just your white voters.  It's a large country and people who don't fit the GOP demographic will move in.  So, we'll see what the future will bring.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 07:59:57 AM PDT

  •  So what without better Congress? (0+ / 0-)

    First, so what unless we get a much better Congress and second question, what kind of Democrat in the WH?

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