A thought-provoking piece at Politico outlined a number of reasons that the American electorate is at a point of inflection. The main factor, as you probably know, are the nation's shifting demographics, as the country becomes less white and more gray (aka older). (There's a large degree to which those two phenomena are mutually exclusive, incidentally, as we've noted before.)
We were curious, though, what that aging would look like by state. In his Politico piece, Doug Sosnik writes that "in the future the electorate in the Midwest will be older than the rest of the country," a change that's already led to a change in leadership in the region, given the propensity of older people to vote Republican. (Which we've also talked about before.)
The Census Bureau no longer does state-by-state population projections, but it does point to states' own projections. We worked our way through those to figure out how large each state's population over the age of 65 would be by 2040.
A note before we get to the end result. There is very much something to be said for having a centralized organization (like the Census Bureau) calculate and compile this data. Alabama's data, for example, was neatly presented in a spreadsheet. New Hampshire's was in a written report. New Mexico and Pennsylvania wanted money for their breakdowns, $130 in total if we wanted both. (Editor's note: Um, no.) The Tenth Amendment at work, I suppose.
Here, then, is the result. The starting percentages seen below are compiled from the same data sources as the projections. We compared them to the Census Bureau's 2013 estimates of the over-65 population and the two were generally within a percentage point of each other. Which should serve as a reminder that we're dealing with estimates across the board here. Anyway, click the button that says "future."
That's a pretty remarkable shift. The chart blow shows the anticipated change by state (for every state for which we could find data).
It's a trend that the national Census Bureau anticipates will continue for several decades after 2040. Which doesn't mean that Republicans will own Congress and the White House for that entire time period; after all, 2008's youthful Obama voter is 2040's 50-plus-year-old. And, again, there's that other trend -- the demographic one -- moving in the Democrats' favor.
Time will tell what happens. And, apparently, we'll all be there to see it.