Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

The GOP’s electoral collapse is postponed

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The changing ethnic makeup of the electorate spells doom for the GOP unless it can figure out a way to appeal to minorities, right? Everybody knows that.

I thought I knew it too, and so, as part of the book I’m working on, I set out to document this universally acknowledged truth with numbers. I hereby concede defeat. The GOP is facing a demographic headwind, but for the next few election cycles it is a zephyr rather than a gale.

It seems impossible that the headwind is not already a gale, or even a hurricane. After all, we know from the national census that non-Latino whites (hereafter just whites) fell to 64% of the population in 2010, while Latinos continued their skyrocketing rise, now constituting 16% of the population, overtaking African Americans as the nation’s largest minority. We know from the National Election Pool exit polls, the one used by all the major news organizations, that Democrats captured large majorities of Latinos (averaging 64% of the vote), blacks (92%) and Asians (62%) in the four presidential elections from 2000 through 2012. The Census Bureau’s projections tell us that America’s minorities will continue to increase as a proportion of the population, with whites becoming a minority of all Americans in the early 2040s.

And yet, when these numbers are plugged into the standard arithmetic for predicting voting outcomes, the expected increase in the Democratic vote in 2016 is not five, six, or seven percentage points. Nor even one or two percentage points. The demographic changes I just described may be expected to produce an increase in the Democratic presidential vote of just three-tenths of one percentage point.

How is that possible? Because I neglected to mention one other set of numbers that goes into that arithmetic, also produced by the Census Bureau in periodic special surveys for the November Current Population survey: Voter turnout. In the presidential elections from 2000 through 2008 (the 2012 figures aren’t yet available), the percentage of Americans eighteen years and older who actually voted averaged 57%. But those percentages varied widely by ethnic group. Among whites, the average turnout was 64%. Among blacks, 57%. Among Latinos and Asians, just 29%.

That’s why the headwind is so feeble in the near term. Between 2012 and 2016, the Census Bureau estimates that the population of voting-age Latinos will increase by 3.9 million people compared to an increase of just 1.8 million whites. But because of their much lower turnout, the expected increase in Latino voters is 9,513 fewer—yes, fewer—than the expected increase in white voters. The only reason that the Democrats can expect even a microscopic 0.3 percentage point increase in the 2016 vote is because of an increase in the black voting-age population.

In the long term, the GOP will indeed face a gale. Much of the explanation for the low turnout of Latinos and Asians is that many are recent immigrants, are not yet citizens, and hence are not eligible to vote. Among citizens, turnout in presidential elections is already around 47% for Latinos and 45% for Asians. As time goes on, it is plausible that the percentage of Latinos and Asians who are citizens will increase, and that the propensity of Latinos and Asians to vote will eventually be about the same as the propensity of other Americans. To be specific, suppose I assume that the overall turnout rate for Latinos and Asians will linearly converge on the African American turnout rate of 57%, reaching that point by 2040. Leaving the other parameters unchanged, the expected Democratic vote for president will rise from 51% in 2012 to 55% in 2024 and to 64% by 2040.

Other changes in the assumptions can expand that predicted gap favoring Democrats. The last few decades have seen the development of a large “marriage gap” in voting, with married couples voting predominantly for Republicans and singles for Democrats—and marriage rates are falling among all groups except Asians. If those marriage rates continue to fall, we can expect the Democrats to reap an additional electoral dividend. But at this point, we are pushing our luck in trying to anticipate what happens. For example, conservatives have more children than liberals, and there is a sizable correlation between the political opinions of parents and their adult children—maybe that will offset a growing marriage gap.

The biggest imponderable, of course, is how the Republican Party evolves. If it continues to be seen as a party dominated by anti-abortion, anti-gay, religious fanatics—and, however unfairly, that’s the way it is seen by broad segments of the non-conservative electorate—it will have gone the way of the Whigs long before 2040. If it becomes identified as the party in favor of free enterprise and free lives, equally opposed to crony capitalism and to bureaucrats who tell us how to live our lives, it could return to power with large majorities. But that is just my strongly felt opinion. My immediate point, with good evidence behind it, is that ethnic changes in the electorate do not make the next few elections nearly as ominous for the GOP as conventional wisdom has it.

16 thoughts on “The GOP’s electoral collapse is postponed

  1. As much as I usually respect Charles Murray, his conclusion is the same old tired line thrown out by many within Washington: the survival of the Republican party hinges upon the Republican party being the living embodiment of Charles Murray’s political philosophy.

    Further, Murray’s “that’s unfortunately how the GOP seen” is a copout. No, that is how Charles Murray views conservatives. It would be refreshing if he could express that opinion without hiding behind the magical “others.”

    • There r worse things than being seen as a champion of free markets & free lives, and note that many libertarians (small L) are pro-life bc they view abortion as a violation of the nonviolence principle.

  2. The 2012 election isn’t a good basis for analysis. After all, the Republicans managed to choose as a candidate the only person in the party who couldn’t run against Obamacare, and one of the few people in the party who could be attacked on his tax rate. Maybe if we get a conservative candidate again (and no, Bush 41, Dole, Bush 43, and McCain were not conservatives!) the voters will have a choice.

  3. A lot of religious traditional conservatives are rejecting the law and rejecting legal marriages. Thanks to the law defining unequal/dependent relationships as abusive/old/oppressive/etc.

    They are only having ceremonial sacramental marriages nowadays. With cohabitation and civil unions thrown in for any small legal issues.

    But yes the racial thing is real and defines modern American politics on par with changes in the legal marriage regime.

    +90% of Blacks who voted, voted for Obama
    +70% of Hispanics who voted, voted for Obama
    +70% of Asians who voted, vote for Obama
    40% of SWPL White Liberals in big cities who are afraid of minority crime yet blame it all on rural white Christians/redneck/white trash/etc. conservatives are blind, blind and in denial. It’s deflecting the blame.

    Only in a modern American liberal democracy can these people not be called a voting block voting for their own interests. If 90% of a population voted for one candidate, people would think what on earth was wrong with this sector of society.

    It can be said that “voter turnout” is what matters but it’s a copout. What matters is demographics because when voter turnout comes, and it will come, it’s always swinging towards pro mass legal + illegal immigration from other countries (liberals).

    What matters if something doesn’t always show its colors? It doesn’t change what it is at the core. It is just hiding itself. The voter turnout argument is the same.

  4. If it continues to be seen as a party dominated by anti-abortion, anti-gay, religious fanatics—and, however unfairly, that’s the way it is seen by broad segments of the non-conservative electorate—it will have gone the way of the Whigs long before 2040.

    This is due mostly to big city white liberals controlling the entire narrative, the media, politics and big business (yes, big business).

    Why should I care if I’m seen as bigot and I have to “change and evolve” my values and be inclusive of the most intolerant tolerant people around.

    I find the entire modern legal marriage, the entire modern culture and political climate despicable.

    Most men/women in America are not professional high-status white liberal and Asian liberal women/men who want to impose their disgusting morals on the country.

    BHO is their candidate. A man who hates guns, hates the country (aka flyover country and non-big city places) and apparently thinks that relationships that are not egalitarian amounts to rape.

    May he burn in Hell. Or better yet be shot by his own drone attacks.

    Charles Murray is quite typical of his social circles. Supporting USA social liberalism when these people are merely 5-10% of American society.

    Big cities need to go.

  5. I don’t think many people on the left understand how they are imposing their cultural morals/sexual mores/etc. on American society and expanding it through media/politics/big business.

    Am I an yuppie professional mother who has a fabulous career and 3-4 beautiful children (obviously through artificial modern contraception)? Is my dear man a high-status powerful Washington D.C. man who is making rain in D.C.? Or in NYC? Or SF? Or Silicon Valley? Or Chicago? Or Atlanta? Or Austin?

    No. I’m sick and tired of “power couples” and their stuff. How many people in America actually make 6 figures, 7 figures or 8 figures? Elite men and women right? The top 1%, 0.1% and the 0.01%?

    It’s frustrating having constantly their values thrown down my throat. I hope they all become bankrupt through Black/Hispanic welfare single mothers sucking their resources dry.

  6. For my two cents, I saw no mention of the 4M Republicans that “sat out” the 2012 election. This may be because Charles said that those figures have not come out yet. Some political pundits have remarked that the GOP did not “set their base”. Unfortunately, I rarely agree with the political pundits.

    My thinking is that 4M Republicans sat out this election for one of several reasons. One being that their GOP candidate did not win the nomination. Second, that Romney was a Mormon which is not considered Christian, and Christians refused to vote for a Mormon. I would add here that Romney’s morals and attitude far outweigh those of some Christians. And one reason could be that the GOP didn’t set their base. I highly doubt that opinion.

    These Republicans that did not vote in 2012 failed to understand that their vote would not necessarily count as a vote for Romney, but against Obama.

    The GOP is going to have to change, not necessarily for the reasons that Mr. Murray stated. First of all, they need to either get rid of the moderate establishment Republicans. Then they need to stand their ground on their principles and call Obama’s bluff on his economic policies. As a result, that would make the Country suffer some and turn Democrats away from Obama. The Republican House should now be nullifying all EO’s that Obama has written, that call for any law or that result in even one cent being paid out. They need to stand their ground. Once the people started seeing and experiencing the results of Obama’s economic policy actions, I would think that many minds would change about the Democrats and Liberals. Especially in the Latino and Asian communities. When Obama actually owns his actions, the people are not going to like it at all. If this happened now, 2014 elections could sway in a big way.

    Just my opinion.

  7. I am writing a book entitled
    Condoms are not romantic: How America’s demographic and economic problems can be solved by paying women who have an IQ of 65 to fornicate in a public library bathroom at taxpayer’s expense rather than allowing people to keep their own money in the own pocket! Making the world a better place indeed!

  8. It looks quite likely that those Latino illegal immigrants will be citizens before the next elections, since the Republicans appear to be ready to sign their own death warrant and amnesty the lot of them.

    Republicans also face a demographic problem from all young people, including whites – regardless of your race, the younger you are, the more thoroughly you’ve been indoctrinated by left-wing media, and the more likely you are to be the child of a single mother, financially dependent on EBT cards and Medicaid. These people are not going to grow up to vote for Republicans who will cut programs they depend (or depended) on in order to cut taxes they will most likely not be paying anyway.

    I don’t think there’s a democratic solution to this for the Republicans as we know them. There will not be an important party that supports the principles they support, any more than there’s an important party that still supports the divine rights of monarchs. There is still a party that bears the name – “Tory” – of the monarchists of the pasts, but it now has much more in common with its previous incarnation’s opponents than its previous incarnation. If there’s still a Republican Party in 50 years, it will either be an insignificant regional party, or it will bear little resemblance to the party of Reagan.

  9. Dr. Murray, don’t you think you should also factor in some sub-sets of the US population that will consistently vote democrat as follows:

    Arabs – 2% of population
    Jews – 2% of population
    Gays – 2% of population
    Indigenous (Eskimo, Native American) – 2% of population

    If one factors in that out of these sub-groups, approximately 70% are going to consistently vote democrat, that puts another 6-8% of the voting domain in the democrats favor.

    Just food for thought.

  10. Thew problem of Republican party in USA is much better explained by Steve Sailer,
    than by (most deeply respected by me) Dr. Charles Murray. See

    The title of his article is
    “Happy White Married People Vote Republican, So Why Doesn’t The GOP Work On Making White People Happy?”

    It reflects the main (in my very humble opinion) technical achievement of Mr. Sailer in sociology:
    introducton and development of the notion of
    This achievement, along with
    “Income inequality and IQ” by Dr. Murray,
    make these two individuals
    the most deserving “Nobel Prioze in Economics”
    living people.
    Alas, nobody asked me to nominate them.

    • That was written before morning tea.
      I am really sorry for all the typos:
      Thew —> The
      introducton —> introduction
      Prioze —> Prize

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