Even when Democrats' fortunes tumble spectacularly in the short-term, the party can always remind itself that national demographic trends favor them in the end. Many, many old white people will die soon enough. This generation's youth voters are lopsidedly liberal. Meanwhile, Hispanics — who've voted strongly for Democrats in the last two elections after mainstream Republican rhetoric took a sharply nativist turn in 2007 — will occupy a larger and ever growing percentage of the American population. Throw in reliable support from 80-90% of African Americans, and the Democratic party could be dominant in the not-too-distant future.
In fact, these trends could severely hamper the GOP's electoral prospects as soon as 2012. The National Journal's estimable Ron Brownstein went through the new Census figures and determined that if Barack Obama's lucky, he may be able to win reelection without having to deal with terrible white adults much at all.
If the minority share of the vote increases in 2012 by the same rate it has grown in presidential elections since 1992, it will rise to about 28 percent nationally. By itself, that could substantially alter the political playing field from 2010, when the minority vote share sagged to just 22 percent. It means that if Obama can maintain, or even come close to, the four-fifths share of minority votes that he won in 2008, he could win a majority of the national popular vote with even less than the 43 percent of whites he attracted last time.
Some of these examples are stunning:
Obama, for instance, won Florida last time with 42 percent of the white vote; under this scenario, if he maintains his minority support he could win the Sunshine State with just under 40 percent of the white vote. With equal minority support in Nevada, the president could win with only 35 percent of the white vote, down from the 45 percent he garnered in 2008. Likewise, under these conditions, Obama could take Virginia with just 33.5 percent of whites, well down from the 39 percent he captured last time. In New Jersey, his winning number among whites would fall to just over 41 percent (compared with the 52 percent he won in 2008). In Pennsylvania, under these circumstances, 41 percent of white votes would be enough to put the state in Obama's column, down from the 48 percent he won in 2008.
The other way of framing this is that Republicans will have to carry, in Brownstein's words, "an implausibly high percentage of whites to prevail." Meaning we'd all better prepare for a cartoonishly racist 2012 presidential campaign. "Did you see that report on Fox News about the New Black Panther Party building a Black Ground Zero Mosque on the Mexican border to help sneak illegal Mexicans through to impose Sharia on the heartland, because of Obama?" This is what we'll be saying in late October 2012.
[Image via AP]