Wall Street Journal
By Janet Adamy
February 24, 2016
Rapid diversification of the electorate gives Democrats an advantage in this year’s presidential race under a range of scenarios drawn up by a group of demographers.
A report released Thursday by a trio of policy groups paints a picture of a voting population transformed by an influx of young minorities and the aging of baby boomers. It was written by demographers from the liberal Center for American Progress, the more centrist Brookings Institution and the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
The authors melded demographic change projections by race, age and state with voter turnout rates and party preferences for the last three elections. Of the six scenarios they lay out, Democrats would win the Electoral College vote in four and the popular vote in five.
The demographers say their scenarios show the forces shaping the election but don’t predict its outcome. They say the choice of party nominees, economic conditions and other factors will affect the election results.
If turnout rates and party preferences for the age and racial groups remain the same as in 2012, demographic change alone—the increased share of minority voters and the decline of white voters—would boost the Democrats’ winning vote margin to 4.8 percentage points in 2016, from 3.9 points in 2012.
By looking at how that scenario plays out state by state, the demographers projected that Americans would put a Democrat in the White House again, with 332 Electoral College votes to 206 for Republicans.
While that is the same electoral total as 2012, the map reflects morphing shades of red and blue for 2016. Nevada changes its status from a swing state to solidly Democratic, while Georgia moves from solid Republican to a swing state.
“All of our different scenarios become more Democratic or less Republican because of the changing demographics,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
Whites have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1968. African-Americans have voted Democratic in every White House contest since 1936, and Hispanics have been strongly Democratic, too.
The only scenario where Republicans won both the popular vote and the electoral tally was one where the authors simulated a surge of Republican support from white voters of all ages in every state by 5 points above 2012 voting behavior.
In that scenario, the Republicans would have a winning margin of 2.4 points this year, compared with their losing margin of 3.9 points in 2012.
Could that happen if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination? Mr. Frey says not necessarily, given that Mr. Trump’s appeal among whites could be offset by his alienation of Latinos with derogatory remarks and anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric.
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