Thursday, May 02, 2013

The GOP’s Demographic Time-Bomb

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Some would depict Nate Silver as a geeky nerd, but on the 2012presidential  election, his analysis proved to be dead on.  Now, Silver has been using his analytical skills and data to explore what the future may hold for the Republican Party if it doesn't change more than its "messaging" as demographic change continues across the country and the number of angry, typically elderly, conservative/religious extremist whites declines as a percentage of the overall population.  If Silver's analysis is correct, the GOP ought to be scared as Hell that it will be a permanent minority party.  So far, reality does not seem to be sinking in with most members of the GOP who continue to focus on angry whites and Christofascists as their sole audience.  Silver's piece in the New York Times is interesting reading.  Here are some excerpts:

A bill to allow unauthorized immigrants to gain citizenship carries electoral risks and rewards for the Republican Party. On the one hand, if the bill were passed, some of those immigrants would eventually vote. Roughly 80 percent of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, and about 10 percent are Asian — groups that voted heavily Democratic in the last two elections.

On the other hand, such legislation could plausibly improve the Republican Party’s brand image among Hispanics and Asian-Americans, perhaps allowing the party to fare better among these voters in future elections. Which of these effects would outweigh the other?

I’ve designed a tool, in the form of an interactive graphic, that allows you to make different sets of assumptions about immigration reform, population growth and racial voting patterns. Although the graphic contains a number of simplifications, we hope it will be useful to experiment with.

The graphic begins with 2012 voting results as a baseline. In each state, and the District of Columbia, I’ve estimated the vote for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the five racial categories (white, black, Hispanic, Asian and “other”) that are tracked in exit polls.

Because the exit poll data is incomplete — 19 states did not have exit polls last year, and the polls often did not break down the results where a racial population was small (for instance, Asian-Americans in Montana) — I had to rely on various forms of extrapolation and interpolation to fill in the missing data points.

The interactive graphic then allows you to make three sets of assumptions to consider how the vote might change going forward.

Step 1: Population Growth
Immigration reform is being contested against a background of an increasingly nonwhite electorate. Seventy-two percent of voters were white in 2012, down from 74 percent in 2008 and 81 percent in 2000.

The graphic allows you to consider the effects of further population changes by entering growth rates for the five major racial groups. As a default, it assumes that the number of white voters will grow by 0.5 percent a year, the number of black voters by 1 percent a year, the number of Hispanic and “other” voters by 3 percent a year and the number of Asian voters by 3.5 percent a year. These figures represent a rough consensus of various population growth estimates.

Step 2: Unauthorized Immigrants
The graphic also allows you to consider the effects of legislation that would introduce new citizens to the electorate. These changes are assumed to have a one-time effect: that is, they would affect the status of the roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants who are already in the United States, but not future groups of immigrants. The calculation assumes that this impact is separate from the long-term changes in the voter population evaluated in the previous step.

Step 3: Changes to Racial Voting Patterns
Finally, the graphic allows you to evaluate the effects of changes in the share of votes going to each party from each racial group. The changes are assumed to be uniform across states. So, for example, if your assumption is that the G.O.P. does five percentage points better with Hispanics nationally than it did in 2012, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote is assumed to grow to 44 percent from 39 percent in Florida, to 23 percent from 18 percent in Illinois, and so forth.

The most interesting application, however, is in seeing how the various positive and negative effects for Republicans might play out against one another.

Suppose, for example, that the voter population grows in accordance with the defaults assumed in the model. This would produce a net of 6.3 million new votes for Democrats by 2028.

And suppose that 25 percent of the immigrants currently here illegally gain citizenship and vote by 2028. The model calculates that this would provide another 1.2 million votes for Democrats.

But suppose also that, as a result of immigration reform, the Republicans go from winning about 28 percent of the Hispanic vote and 24 percent of the Asian vote (as they did in 2012) to 35 percent of each group by 2028. That would shift about 4.8 million votes back to the G.O.P. — about four times more than it lost from the immigrants becoming citizens and voting predominantly Democratic. However, it wouldn’t be enough to outweigh the Democratic gains from long-term population growth.

I remain dumbfounded that the GOP still does take demographic change seriously  - or not seriously enough.  Racism, bigotry and embracing white supremacists may continue to allow some successes in the short term, but in the long run, the GOP seems bent on suicide.

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