The 2016 presidential elections will be the true test of Republican inroads among voters of color, as states across the nation increasingly feel the political impact of demographic changes.
The Center for American Progress examined those implications in a recently-released brief entitled “The Changing Face of America’s Electorate.” The brief examines 2016 election trends and patterns of voters of color to predict their potential impact.
The analysis identified what the electorate is projected to look like in 2016 for key battleground states—places like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and others—and estimates the racial and ethnic makeup of the eligible voting population. Based on those projections, the brief estimated the potential impact of minority voters in 2016 based on two election simulations.
“Already by 2016, demographic shifts will be influential in states such as Florida, where voters of color are an increasingly significant share of the electorate, as well as in states such as Ohio, where elections are close and growth among voters of color is rapidly outpacing the growth of the non-Hispanic white electorate,” said Patrick Oakford, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress and author of the brief.
The first simulation assumes that voters across all racial and ethnic groups turn out at the same rate and have the same party preference as they did in 2012. That scenario—particularly if voters of color turn out in higher numbers—would likely benefit Democrats, perhaps even allowing them to win back states such as North Carolina, the analysis found.
In the second simulation, voter turnout rates are again held constant from 2012, but racial and ethnic groups are assumed to revert to the party preferences they exhibited in 2004. In this scenario, the brief determined, a Republican candidate would have to make much greater inroads with voters of color than the benchmark set by President George W. Bush in 2004. Even if Republicans regain the level of minority support obtained in 2004, it would still not be enough for the GOP to win back Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
“As people of color become an ever larger share of states’ electorates, the political implications for both parties comes into even sharper focus: In 2016, to win the presidency—as well as many U.S. Senate races—candidates will need to secure substantial support from voters of color,” the brief summarized.