Does the GOP have a demography problem?

700-00518565When a party wins an election, especially a second consecutive election, pundits start to explain why it was all inevitable and the other party is now doomed. Given that the White House generally shifts parties every eight years, these pundits usually have to eat crow fairly soon.

The latest theory, of course, is that demography has sealed the fate of the GOP and it will never win another Presidential contest. Let’s see. The problem is that taking a single snapshot and projecting it into the future is hazardous to your credibility. But then, I predicted that Mitt Romney would win, so what do I care?

It is true that Barack Obama won the race among younger people and among ethnic minorities. It is also true that older people – who voted for Mitt Romney – are more likely than younger to die before the next election. It is also true that ethnic minority populations are growing. As older people die and new young people join the electorate, that helps the Democrats, right? And as the proportion of black and Latino voters grows, that helps them too.

Well, kinda. Maybe. For one thing the pro-Democrat analysis treats these two groups of voters quite differently. Democratic strength among ethnic minorities is considered a good thing because they are a growing proportion of the electorate. But this is not so with young people. Actually, it is old people who are a growing proportion of the electorate.

The pro-Democrat analysis makes two assumptions: today’s young people will carry on voting for the Democrats as they get older (while new young people join the electorate and old people die) and ethnic minorities will carry on voting Democrat. But, note, while it assumes new young voters – those presently under 18 – will be as liberal as present young voters it does not make the same assumption about seniors. New seniors – people presently in their 40s but who, in 20 years’ time, will be in their 60s, are assumed to vote as they do now, not as older people do now. People presently in their 20s are assumed to still have the same voting preferences as they do now when they get married, have children, start paying higher tax rates, etc. It is an absurd double standard.

There are pro-Republican demographic trends too. The population in red states is rising while in blue states it is stable. Each census gives more electoral weight to the states that voted for Romney. Democrats have to gain states just to stand still.

Can they do it? Sure, but it is not a foregone conclusion. The growth of black vote suggests that North Carolina will move from purple to blue and South Carolina from red to purple. But this assumes Democrats continue to win 95% of the black vote, which no-one thinks they will do. There will never be another first black president. How far and how fast will the Democrats’ proportion of the black vote fall? No-one knows.

Will today’s young people stay liberal? They are pro-gay marriage, and I doubt that will change. There are many older people who don’t know any openly gay people and are disconcerted by the thought. That will not become true of younger people. But, as their income rises, might they take a different view on taxes? It seems probable.


Quentin Langley is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School as well as a freelance columnist published in the UK and all parts of the US. He blogs on social media and crisis communications at


  1. Michael JR Jose says:

    Does the GOP have a credibility problem? Is the GOP the problem not the solution? Why do they put up short dotty old geezers and wooden patrician suits in successive campaigns against a charlatan socialist race-baiting pseudo-lawyer? Is there any hope for the USSA? Will there be food riots and miltarised police supporting the Dept. of Homeland Security circling the waggons around City Hall? Sing loud: “Amerika, Amerika…oh whatever”.

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