Much has been written about the Republican Party’s demographic crisis, and how it could very likely doom its chances to win back the White House in 2016. While there is some truth to this claim, the 2016 election is actually one that, at this point, looks eminently winnable for the GOP. In fact, if I were a betting man, I’d put real money on it.
First, some gloomy facts relating to the epic demographic disaster in the making for the Republicans. Number one on the list of worries for the party is that white people are going away…and fast. You see, the GOP’s base constituency has pretty much always been comprised of white folks. Now, in the past, this was a fairly good thing, since whites commanded a dominant share of the voting population. By playing to issues near and dear to traditional values voters and upper middle class suburbanites (both overwhelmingly Caucasian), Republicans were easily able to put together majority coalitions that delivered people like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush into the White House (all three of which managed at least one national landslide election victory).
But things, as they tend to do, have changed rather dramatically in the last 15 years. GOP strategists have gradually been awakening to the disturbing reality that this solid and historically reliable voter base has been shrinking, as a percentage of the voting public, at an alarming rate with every election. The chief reason for this, of course, is the rising demographic heft of minorities — especially Latinos. With waves of illegal immigration over the southern border that have been continuing unchecked for decades, coupled with fairly generous and long-standing legal immigration policies, the dominance of the white vote has now been thrown into severe jeopardy. Rapidly increasing numbers of Latino citizens are beginning to participate in the electoral process and, given that Latinos tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, this is decidedly bad news for the Republican Party.
Another disturbing issue for the GOP is that its voters are too old. Right now, older voters are a fairly significant portion of the overall electorate — and they tend to be more traditional, more conservative, and they like to vote Republican. But what happens when the “Baby Boomers,” which are a rather plump demographic bulge (meaning an unusually large generational cohort), finally succumb to the least horrific of the two inevitabilities of life? How will Republicans appeal to the younger, less traditional, less conservative voters that remain? Nobody yet knows.
By this point, you’re probably wondering how the GOP has a chance in hell of winning the 2016 presidential election — and why I would state that it should be favored to win. The chief reason is that voter intensity almost always trumps demographics in national elections. Most any political analyst will testify to this repeatedly tested truth. So, which side will have the most riled up and motivated voter base in 2016? Well, considering that the economy is weak and getting weaker, the middle east is falling apart, the dog ate the IRS’s homework, and conservatives will have been in the wilderness for eight years, I suspect Republicans will be as charged up to vote as they’ve ever been. They may have some extremely severe demographic issues to face over the next couple decades, but the wind is at their backs for the near future.
Can Hillary save the day for the Democrats and turn her enviable poll numbers into actual votes on election day? Perhaps she can, but only if she manages to credibly distance herself from president Obama — and if the Republicans cooperate by nominating a weak candidate (as they’ve certainly shown a unique talent for in the past, I have to say). But, overall, the political winds are blowing very Republican, at the moment, and they’re not likely to change before the 2016 election. As of today, I have to say we’re very likely to see a Republican Congress and White House in 2017. Considering the very real demographic disease the GOP suffers from, though, this could very well be its “last hurrah.”