The demographics of 2010
People too often forget the power of demographics in predicting elections. Nate Silver, for instance, got his start plugging demographics into a statistical model that proves eerily accurate at predicting primary votes. If the election itself was held among white men and women, John McCain would've won easily.
But you don't actually hear that much about demographics in the run-up to elections. So this post from Daniel Hopkins is a welcome reminder:
Last year, political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Charles Stewart pointed out that most of Barack Obama’s increased vote total over John Kerry came from black and Hispanic voters. Those two ethnic/racial groups together accounted for an increase of 7 million votes for Obama, as compared to 3 million added votes from non-Hispanic white citizens. So in thinking about the upcoming elections for the House of Representatives, it makes sense to ask about how blacks and Latinos are represented in the most competitive districts.
Consider the 42 seats currently held by Democrats that analyst Charlie Cook considers to be “toss ups.” As these races go, so goes the House in all likelihood. According to the Census Bureau, the median toss-up district’s residents in 2006-8 were 3.6 percent Latino and 4.8% black — as compared to shares of 15.1% and 12.3% nationally. Simply put, irrespective of turnout, the electorate that will prove decisive in which party controls the House has fewer voters of color than the electorate that proved decisive in electing Obama.
And I'd say Hopkins understates his case. Obama didn't just win because of the presence of young voters and minorities. He won because they turned out disproportionately for him. If they just vote at normal levels in 2010, that'll be quite bad for Democrats -- particularly if seniors or other conservative demographics increase their participation. That's why the poll result Democrats have to worry about isn't voter preference, where they're doing alright, but voter enthusiasm, where they're not:
Hence Obama's recent speeches, which have been designed to fire up the Democratic base.
September 9, 2010; 1:18 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Midterms
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