Demographics are a (Red) Destiny

Here’s some maps for you…

2004 under the 2024 electoral vote values.
2008 under 2024 electoral vote values.
2012 under 2024 electoral values.
2016 under 2024 electoral vote values.
2020 under 2024 electoral vote values.
The 2024 outlook.

Back in the Obama years, we heard a lot about “demographics are destiny.” In fact they are, just not how those smart folks thought. There were thoughts of Democrats building huge electoral majorities as late as just after the 2012 election. The only part of that huge majority that has held as “permanent” so far is Colorado and Virginia, totaling 23 electoral votes. Democrats could probably count turning Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina all purple, totaling 49 electoral votes, as a somewhat positive outcome as well (Bush won them all somewhat easily). But for those 72 electoral votes, let’s be clear about what Democrats have seen slide against them. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all blue from 1992 through 2012 and somewhat comfortable Obama wins, now are the 54 most competitive electoral votes in our nation’s politics. Florida, Ohio, and Iowa, 53 electoral votes that President Obama carried twice, are now almost certainly red moving forward. Indiana and Missouri, two of the three most competitive states in the 2008 election, are 21 electoral votes of red bastion. And of course, the promised movement of Texas to the left doesn’t look all that close to fruition. That’s 128 electoral votes Democrats thought as late as 2008 were no worse than battlegrounds that have slid away from them to varying degrees.

So the obvious question is why? An underrated part of this is Republican gains with Latinos and Black men in 2020 putting Democrats on defense. Even this though understates the bigger problem Democrats have had for a while- they put all their eggs in the demographic tsunami’s basket, and never understood what that meant under our federal system. This will become even more crystal clear in Senate elections over the coming decades. Population growth is in fact more non-white than ever before, but it’s all in a couple of states. By 2040, half the population will live in eight states, and 70% of the population will live in fifteen states. What that means in short is that half the country will elect 16 Senators and the other half (which will be much whiter and possibly have less education) will elect 84. The 70% of the country in 15 states will get just 30 Senators and the 30% in smaller, more rural, less diverse states will get 70 Senators. The United States Senate, before I am 60 years old, will be one of the least representative legislative bodies in the democratic world. While the House of Representatives, and by extension the electoral vote count for President, should at least partially move with population growth, even that won’t be perfect. Worse yet for Democrats, even if the GOP just keeps up marginal growth with non-white voters, they will keep Texas and Florida in their column for President, keeping them in the ball game to win elections if they continue doing well with white voters. Basically, if Democrats can’t change their 60 year trend line with white voters, Presidential elections remain on a knife’s edge, the Senate’s future is fairly conservative, and the House will only lean Democratic, not permanently tipped left. This is not even getting into state level governments, or what the Supreme Court will look like and do.

Demographics are not the destiny we hope for.

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