The modern GOP’s increasing reliance on a shrinking pool of older, white, and working-class voters — and its failure to attract nonwhite voters — would seem to present an enormous obstacle to the eventual Republican nominee. In 1980, when nonwhite voters were just 12 percent of the electorate, Ronald Reagan won 56 percent of white voters and was elected in a landslide. But in 2012, when nonwhite voters accounted for 28 percent of the electorate, Mitt Romney took 59 percent of white voters — and lost the presidential race by 4 percentage points. Without a total brand makeover, how can Republicans expect to prevail with an even more diverse electorate in 2016?…If the electorate evolves in sync with the Census Bureau’s estimates of the adult citizen population (admittedly, a big if), the white share of the electorate would drop from 72 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2016; the African-American share would remain stable at 13 percent; the Latino portion would grow from 10 percent to 11 percent; and the Asian/other segment would increase from 5 percent to 6 percent. If the 2012 election had been held with that breakdown (keeping all other variables stable), President Obama would have won by 5.4 percentage points rather than by his actual 3.85-point margin.In addition, the group with which the GOP does best — whites without college degrees — is the only one poised to shrink in 2016. President Obama won just 36 percent of these voters in 2012, while 42 percent of white voters with college degrees pulled the lever for him. But if the electorate changes in line with census estimates, the slice of college-educated whites will grow by 1 point, to 37 percent of all voters, while the portion of whites without degrees will shrink 3 points, to just 33 percent of the total.In other words, the GOP doesn’t just have a growing problem with nonwhites; it has a shrinkage problem as well, as conservative white seniors are supplanted by college-educated millennials with different cultural attitudes.
July 10, 2015 at 2:32 PM EDT