No, Pro-Dem Demographic Groups Not Trending Sharply Towards GOP

One of the arguments that came out of the 2014 midterm elections was over the question of whether pro-Democratic demographic groups were trending Republican aside from their lower percentage of the total vote. Exit polls showed Republicans doing a bit better among millennials, Latinos and even African-Americans, and a lot better among Asians, than in 2012. Similar findings in 2010 led some analysts to conclude that the Obama Coalition only existed when Obama was at the top of the ballot–not a particularly good omen for Democrats looking ahead to 2016. But other analysts argued the logic of figuring that even as midterm elections produced conservative-skewing turnout patterns across demographic lines, they probably do so within demographic groups. Thus, more conservative millennials, Latinos, African-Americans and Asians show up, at least at the margins, and Republicans get a bonus beyond the overall reshaping of the electorate.

There’s some strong if circumstantial evidence of the latter hypothesis in a big new survey from Pew that shows major demographic groups falling more or less into the same partisan preferences (particularly once the hordes of self-identified but bogus indies are pushed to “lean” one way or another) now as in 2012. This includes Millennials, who tilt Democratic by a 51/35 margin; Latinos, Democratic by a 56/26 margin; and Asians (65/23 Democratic after narrowly–at least according to the exit polls–going Republican in 2014).

These numbers should give triumphalist Republicans some pause at a minimum, while reinforcing the belief of many–myself included–that we are in an era of oscillating elections based on different midterm and presidential turnout patterns rather than some sort of steady trend towards the GOP.

If it’s true that, say, HRC won’t automatically lose a big chunk of younger or darker voters as compared to the 44th president, about the only “fundamental” that presently favors Republicans is the rather mysterious one of people tiring of parties after two terms in the White House. I call it “mysterious” because we are dealing with a very limited data set and some important counter-examples. So: sorry, Republicans, looks like you’re going to have to win this one on the merits.

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.