Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress released today a groundbreaking new analysis showing the challenges that lie ahead for both political parties given the rapidly shifting demographics of the U.S. electorate. This new report by political demographers Ruy Teixeira, John Halpin, and Rob Griffin provides an in-depth look at 12 key swing states and the voters within them that will decide which party can amass the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
A year out from the election and with a long way still to go, "The Path to 270 in 2016: Can the Obama Coalition Survive?," argues that the presidential election of 2016 appears wide open, with both political parties facing challenges from shifting demographics such as decreases in working-class white voters, increases in educated white voters, and an ever-growing population among communities of color. The states highlighted in the report are: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the Midwest/Rust Belt; Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico in the Southwest; and Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia in the New South.
"While Democrats hold many advantages in terms of demographic shifts and the current balance of the Electoral College map, Republicans have viable paths to victory," said Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. "One path, quite narrow, goes through the maximization of conservative white anger at President Barack Obama in states with more white voters and smaller projected increases in more diverse populations. The other path, more promising for Republicans, would focus on a ‘big tent’ approach that reaches out to Democratic-leaning audiences such as young people, people of color, and unmarried women. Republicans don’t need to win these voters, but rather make inroads among groups that have trended strongly Democratic in the past two elections."
"The heart of the Obama coalition is the minority vote," details the report, with President Obama receiving 81 percent support from communities of color, a group that made up 27 percent of all voters in 2012. Trend data indicate that more of the same growth exhibited in past decades can be expected in the future. Based on the report’s projections, minority eligible voters—African Americans, Latinos, Asians, those of other race, and mixed-race individuals, combined—should increase by 2 points in the 2016 election. Concomitantly, the percentage of white working-class voters, which dropped 19 points between 1988 and 2012, is projected to drop by more 2 points in the next election.
"For Democrats, the key goal is to motivate Obama’s core voters to turn out for a new candidate and to avoid substantial erosion of support among white non-college voters," saidJohn Halpin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. "For their part, the GOP must take steps to present a more welcoming face and policy agenda that can appeal to a national audience that is far more diverse and less ideological than its base. If the 2016 electorate looks and acts like the electorates in 2012 and 2008, Democrats will likely win. If the 2016 electorate looks and acts more like recent midterm electorates or the presidential electorate of 2004, it will be a good year for Republicans."
Read the full report: The Path to 270 in 2016.