It’s not just the economy, stupid. It’s the demographics — the changing face of America.
The 2012 elections drove home trends that have been embedded in the fine print of birth and death rates, immigration statistics and census charts for years.
America is rapidly getting more diverse, and, more gradually, so is its electorate.
Non-Whites made up 28 percent of the electorate this year, compared with 20 percent in 2000. Much of that growth is coming from Hispanics.
The trend has worked to the advantage of President Barack Obama two elections in a row now and is not lost on Republicans poring over the details of the Nov. 6 results.
Obama captured a commanding 80 percent of the growing ranks of non-White voters in 2012, just as he did in 2008. Republican Mitt Romney won 59 percent of non-Hispanic Whites.
Romney couldn’t win even though he dominated among White men and outperformed 2008 nominee John McCain with that group. It’s an ever-shrinking slice of the electorate and of America writ large.
White men made up 34 percent of the electorate this year, down from 46 percent in 1972.
”The new electorate is a lagging indicator of the next America,” says Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center. ”We are mid-passage in a century-long journey from the middle of the last century, when we were nearly a 90 percent White nation, to the middle of this coming century, when we will be a majority-minority nation.”
The NAACP, Latino Decisions, and pollsters at Silas Lee and Associates released exclusive African-American polling data collected on election eve.
“This data underscores the decisive role we played in key battleground states,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. “It reveals opportunities for the GOP to improve its relationship with our community, and suggests the Democratic Party should not assume it will see the 2008 and 2012 levels of Black turnout in 2016.”
Highlights from the data include:
• A national jobs program is essential to winning the African-American vote. Jobs and the economy top off the list of most important issues by a wide margin, with 60 percent of African-American voters identifying this, unprompted, as the most important issue. In addition, 95 percent of all respondents believe the federal government should be engaging in job creation opportunities for all Americans. While respondents overwhelmingly believe that success is determined by self-reliance, they see a very strong and important role for the federal government.
• Issues important to African Americans must remain on the agenda for 2016. Currently, 93 percent of respondents remain enthusiastic about President Barack Obama and his administration. Seventy-nine percent of respondents are “very enthusiastic.” However when President Barack Obama is no longer running in 2016, only 47 percent of respondents were “very enthusiastic” for a Democrat candidacy and 15 percent say they do not know how enthusiastic they will be.
• The Republican Party could gain more than 10 percent of African-American voters in 2016. Fourteen percent of African Americans said they are more likely to vote for a Republican in the future if the candidate has civil rights issues on their agenda. In Virginia and Ohio (15 percent and 13 percent) respondents said the same.
• African Americans believe strongly in self-reliance to achieve success. Eighty-one percent of respondents believe that success in this country depends on self-reliance and determination, while only 14 percent disagree. Respondents, however, believe that the federal government has a role to play in key areas, including education (95 percent), health care (96 percent), and job creation (96 percent).
• Africans Americans support marriage equality and DREAM Act. A full 93 percent of respondents favor the Dream Act, which would provide an opportunity for undocumented youth to seek U.S. citizenship (71 percent strongly, 21 percent somewhat). In national polling, only Latinos come close to this level of support. The data also found majority support for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. When asked about a constitutional right to marry, African-American voters favor this 50 percent, and only 40 percent opposed.
View the complete polling data summary here: http://action.naacp.org/page/-/NAACP%20POLL%202012.pdf.