Barack Obama win shows demographic shifts working against Republicans

Barack Obama

Tuesday's decisive win by Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election highlighted how population shifts - ethnic and generational - have buoyed Democrats while forcing Republicans to rethink their message.

Without recasting their core message and actively trying to expand their base beyond older mostly white Americans, conservatives could struggle even more in future elections as the nation's population incorporates more Latinos, Asians and other minorities as well as young voters, analysts said.

First-time voters, including many young people and immigrants, favored the president by large margins, while older voters leaned to Republican Mitt Romney, Reuters/Ipsos Election Day polling showed.

Obama won an estimated 66 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to Reuters/Ipsos election day polling, at a time when the Latino population is growing rapidly in states such as Florida, one of eight or so politically divided states that were crucial in the presidential race. Other estimates put Obama's share of the Hispanic vote above 70 percent.

The nonwhite vote has been growing - tick, tick, tick - slowly, steadily. Every four-year cycle the electorate gets a little bit more diverse. And it's going to continue, said Paul Taylor of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

This is a very powerful demographic that's changing our politics and our destiny, Taylor said, adding that the number of white voters is expected to continue to decline a few points in each future election cycle.

Data has shown for years that the United States is poised to become a majority minority nation - with whites a minority of the country - over the next several decades. But Tuesday's results highlighted the political impact.(See http://link.reuters.com/hyd83t for a graphic.)

About 80 percent of blacks, Latinos and other nonwhite voters cast their ballots for Obama on Tuesday compared with less than 17 percent for Romney, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling. Obama also won about 63 percent of total voters age 18 to 34.

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