Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Here's a chart of how various racial/ethnic groups voted in the 2008 presidential election, according to exit polling:
Now, here's a chart of what the result would look like if each groups' support for Democrats and Republicans stays constant, but the demographic breakdowns reflect the Census Bureau's new projections for 2050:
On one hand, I kind of expected these numbers to be worse for Republicans. I'm doing a couple of things in these projections that somewhat slants the playing field against them. One is using the 2008 election (a bad election for Republicans) as the starting point. If I used George W. Bush's 44% with Hispanics in 2004, for example, the numbers wouldn't look nearly as bad.
The other is assuming for 2050 that Hispanics will vote in numbers proportional to their share of the population, something they don't do right now (because many are non-citizens, under the age of 18, etc.). Who knows whether that still will be the case two generations from now.
On the other hand, the difference between a 7-point margin (the actual result of the 2008 election) and an 18-point margin is huge. Plus, you can make the case that Republican support from Hispanics has been inflated for three election cycles in a row -- that Bush and McCain both were Republicans who were unusually well-positioned to attract Hispanic support. Who among Romney, Pawlenty, Palin, Thune, Gingrich, Huckabee, etc. is a natural for winning Hispanic votes?
I'm certainly not the first to make this point, but, from the standpoint of long-term politics, the smartest thing that President Bush and Karl Rove ever did was push immigration reform. Of course don't know what racial and ethnic politics will look like in the coming decades. In 40 years, blacks could be voting Republican or whites could give the party 70% support. Heck, in 40 years the Tea Party and the Green Party might be the major players in contesting the all-important cyborg vote.
Still, the easiest (though certainly not easy) path for Republicans to have a durable majority in the decades ahead is for the party to do better with Hispanic voters. For now, I'd give Malia Obama an early edge over Bristol Palin in 2052.
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