Demographics and 2016

So in a new study that I’ll be staring at for a while, the Center for American Progress runs the numbers on the 2016 electoral implications of demographic changes since 2012 in battleground states. The write-up from CAP’s Patrick Oakford notes that two scenarios were analyzed: what would happen in 2016 if the party preferences of 2012 are projected four years down the line, and what would happen if the party preferences of 2004 are assumed to reassert themselves. This second scenario reflects the theory–understandably popular among Republicans–that not having Barack Obama on the ballot would cause the Democratic vote share to relapse to pre-Obama “normal” levels.

Obviously the first scenario would produce a larger Democratic victory than in 2012, with North Carolina rejoining the blue state ranks. I find the second scenario more interesting:

In some states, such as Florida, restoring party preferences to their 2004 levels would enable the GOP to narrowly win back states they lost in 2012 but had won in previous elections. However, in order to win back other key states that the GOP won in 2004, such as Ohio and Nevada, the GOP would need to exceed the share of support it received from voters of color in 2004.

This last observation is interesting insofar as George W. Bush won an impressive 16% of the African-American vote in Ohio in 2004. Does anyone see that performance being exceeded in 2016? I sure don’t. But it’s good that we have some tangible numbers to look at for 2016 instead of vaguely making conjectures about demographic changes and what they mean for each party’s targets.

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.