How Will Racial Minorities Shape Future Elections?
America’s demographic landscape is not only changing — today’s electorate is the most diverse in U.S. history — it’s also shifting national voting behavior. In a recent analysis of political-party composition, the Pew Research Center noted that “the demographic profiles of the Republican and Democratic parties are strikingly different” in 2016 compared with the past 25 years. This is especially true in terms of certain demographic traits, including race and ethnicity and religious affiliation. Since 1992, the Center found, Democratic constituents have grown more ethnically diverse and less religious at a faster rate than the U.S., whereas their Republican counterparts have remained largely non-Hispanic white and become less religious at a slower pace.
A similar trend can be found even within swing states such as Virginia. Historically a Red state in presidential elections, Virginia is most likely to vote Blue in the current race, thanks in large part to the entrance of more, and mostly left-leaning, Hispanics and Asians in the northern portion of the state between 2010 and 2015.
As we inch closer to Election Day and recognize the demographic shifts altering U.S. politics, WalletHub’s analysts predicted which political party is likely to win each future presidential election until 2060 under two scenarios: one in which ethnic and racial groups vote as they did in the 2012 election won by Barack Obama and another in which they vote as they did in the 2004 election won by George W. Bush. By applying voter turnout rates for five ethnic/racial groups in the 2004 and 2012 elections to their projected population sizes from 2020 to 2060, we were able to estimate the share of votes that each party is likely to receive — and thus its likelihood of winning the presidency — in each future election. In addition, we made a separate prediction that considers increased voter participation among the expanding ethnic and racial minority populations. Continue reading below for our findings, expert political commentary and a full description of our methodology.
The table below is divided according to two ethnic/racial voting models, a 2012-Like Model and a 2004-Like Model. Each model includes two sets of projections: The first applies the actual voter turnout rates from the 2012 and 2004 election years to the projected population size of all ethnic/racial groups combined for a particular future election year (2020 and so on). The second applies an increased voter turnout rate, 65 percent each, to the size-adjusted ethnic/racial groups for each future election year.
Ethnic/Racial Voting Patterns
Minority Voter Participation Rate
Percentage of Democratic Vote
Projected Party Winner
Ask the Experts
Shifting demographics imply various challenges for different political groups. We asked a panel of political experts to weigh in on some of those issues as they relate to Republican and Democrats, for instance. Click on the panelists’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- What, if anything, can the Republican party do to blunt the impact of demographic change on their chances of winning at the ballot box?
- Is there a risk that demographic changes could tilt the balance of federal elections in favor of the Democratic party almost irrevocably?
- Taking into account the future increase of the U.S. population, should the number of representatives be increased in order to ensure a better representation of the population?
- Are there structural reforms to our voting and electoral process (e.g., instant runoff voting, reforming electoral college so that is comports with popular vote) that can ensure elections yield results that match the will of the people?
- Given the current state of electoral politics in the U.S., what are the chances of a third party emerging that can seriously compete on a national level?
In order to determine how ethnic/racial demographic shifts in the U.S. will shape future elections, WalletHub’s analysts first examined the voter participation rates of five ethnic/racial groups — whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other races — in the 2004 and 2012 presidential races. Next, we adjusted the sizes of those ethnic/racial groups by the U.S. Census Bureau’s projections — spanning 2020 to 2060 — of the population aged 18 and older.
For each presidential election within that timeframe, we applied the percentages of the electorate (by racial/ethnic group) who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2012 in order to build “2004 and 2012-Like” voting models to simulate future election outcomes. This allowed us to estimate the share of votes that each political party would likely receive — and thus its likelihood of winning the White House — in elections from 2020 to 2060.
We then applied the same approach to our second set of estimates, which assumes a higher voter turnout rate — 65 percent each — for whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians to reflect the current trend of increasing voter participation among ethnic/racial minority groups of the electorate and slightly declining participation among white voters. For “other races,” we used actual voter turnout rates from 2004 and 2012. This assumption acknowledges the lower voter participation rate of Hispanics, 47.5 percent, than whites and blacks, about 65 percent. As Hispanics grow into a larger proportion of the U.S. population, however, it is reasonable to expect their participation in the political process to increase accordingly, perhaps to a higher degree than whites and blacks.
Sources: Data used to create this report were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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