Washington, D.C. — A new report jointly authored by demographics experts from the Center for American Progress, the Democracy Fund, the Brookings Institution, and the Bipartisan Policy Center examines the changing demographic composition of the electorate and how these changes affect the composition of the two major political parties. The analysis finds that most of the effect of demographic change on future party coalitions is already baked in and will reshape party coalitions—in a sense, whether these parties like it or not.
“People don’t realize that demographic change is not just going to change the electoral landscape that parties deal with but also radically transform the parties themselves—Republicans as well as Democrats. The implications of this are far-reaching,” said Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the analysis.
Key findings from the joint analysis include:
The 2016 election was the most demographically divisive election in the past 36 years. The parties were more divided by age, race, and education than in any prior election in modern political history, and the parties were more compositionally different in 2016 than at any point in the prior 36 years. This election was the first presidential election in which white noncollege voters did not make up a plurality of both parties’ coalitions, with white college voters exceeding the share of white noncollege voters in the Democratic coalition.
Nonwhites, and especially Hispanics, will continue to grow as a share of both parties’ coalitions. The analysts find that by 2032, Hispanic voters will surpass black voters as the largest overall nonwhite voting group. By 2036, black voters will make up a larger share of the Democratic coalition than white noncollege voters.
White voters will continue to decline through 2036 as a share of both the Republican and Democratic party coalitions. This decline with be considerably quicker in fast-growing states such as Arizona and Texas that are already less white. White noncollege voters, in particular, are projected to decline rapidly as a share of both parties’ coalitions across all states through 2036.
Generational changes will also be substantial: By 2036, Millennial and Generation Z voters—the two youngest generations—will be heavily represented in both the Democratic Party and Republican Party coalitions. The influence of Baby Boomer and the Silent Generation voters—the two oldest generations—will radically decline. White Millennial and Generation Z voters, in particular, will develop a large presence in the Republican coalition and, combined with nonwhites, will give the GOP a new look in all states.
For five years in a row, leading demographic experts, including CAP’s Ruy Teixeira, have collaborated on States of Change, a demographics and democracy project. The goals of the project are to document and analyze the challenges to democracy posed by the rapid demographic evolution from the 1970s to 2060; to project the race-ethnic composition of every state to 2060, which has not been done in more than 20 years; and to promote a wide-ranging and bipartisan discussion of America’s demographic future and what it portends for the nation’s political parties and public policy.
Click here to read “States of Change: How Demographic Change Is Transforming the Republican and Democratic Parties” by Rob Griffin, William H. Frey, and Ruy Teixeira.