Party of Angry Old White Folks Won’t Go Away

There are some startling new projections out today from the U.S. Census Bureau based on the official 2010 census, that reinforce even more strongly than prior findings that the U.S. will soon become a majority-minority country where past demographics persist among the oldest segments of the population, even as the next generations look wildly different.

Overall, non-Hispanic whites will lose their majority status in 2043. But the transformation is not so fast among old folks:

Projections show the older population would continue to be predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger ages are increasingly minority. Of those age 65 and older in 2060, 56.0 percent are expected to be non-Hispanic white, 21.2 percent Hispanic and 12.5 percent non-Hispanic black. In contrast, while 52.7 percent of those younger than 18 were non-Hispanic white in 2012, that number would drop to 32.9 percent by 2060. Hispanics are projected to make up 38.0 percent of this group in 2060, up from 23.9 percent in 2012.

There are all sorts of implications you can draw from these numbers. But one of interest to Political Animals is that there will remain for decades a powerful constituency of older white Americans who vote at disproportionately high levels and who will be living in a country radically different from the place where they grew up. So for all the talk of the demographic dooming of today’s right-wing GOP, there will be a base of support for this kind of politics for quite some time.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.