Two Demographic Trains

The latest Ron Brownstein write-up of findings from the AEI/CAP States of Change project, focusing on demographic trends in 11 battleground states, focuses on two key groups tugging the states in different directions. One is minority voters, and the other voters over 50. Both are increasing as a share of the electorate in all 11 states, but at different rates.

To make a long story short, the minority share of the electorate is expected to grow most between the 2012 and 2016 elections in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado and Nevada. The over-50 share of the electorate is expected to grow most in New Hampshire, Michigan, Colorado, Ohio and North Carolina. There are a lot of questions about the partisan impact of both these trend-lines, especially as to whether (a) any Democrat can maintain Barack Obama’s support-levels and turnout rates among minority voters, and (b) just-under-50 voters will actually vote more Republicans as they age. And there are also questions, as Brownstein notes, about the impact this or that candidate could have in slowing down, stepping up, or even reversing these trends. Overall, the net trends seem to marginally favor Democrats, but it’s worth noting that Democrats have been over-performing among older white voters in Rust Belt states like Ohio; if they now falter, they’ve got a problem.

It’s kinda like two trains on parallel tracks with occasionally faulty engines. There’s not a lot of room for error in 2016.

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.