Biden’s Hidden Advantage
“Demographics are destiny,” as the saying goes in American politics. The right fears this, and the left welcomes it.
While demographics aren’t everything, they are important. Researchers can predict your future voting patterns based on a few pieces of information with remarkable accuracy. Young, unmarried bisexual woman? Democrat. Old, white male in the south? Republican.
Cross-cutting cleavages and outliers remain, of course. But it is still remarkable how predictable our future voting patterns can be to a well-informed demographer.
Demographics change gradually, which is why I was surprised to learn some fascinating information about the upcoming 2020 election. Even compared with the 2016 election, the voting bloc that is headed to polls this fall will look different.
According to Pew, nonwhites will account for a third of the electorate, their largest share in history. In 2016, Trump managed to win just 8% and 28% of the black and latino vote, respectively.
Additionally, Generation Z (born after 1996) will account for about 10% of eligible voters. The slightly older Millennials are the second largest voting bloc — about 27% of the electorate. Trump is currently losing young people by a 2:1 margin.
The knock on young people has always been turnout. But in the 2018 midterms, Gen-Z, Millennials, and Gen-X accounted for a majority of all ballots cast.
Here’s where the demographics get interesting, however.
A majority of Trump’s base is actually just one demographic — white, non college educated voters. He dominated this group in 2016, 64% to Clinton’s 28%. Indeed, non-college educated whites are the lifeblood of Trump’s re-election campaign.
According to Dave Wasserman, this cohort has decreased from 47.0% of the all voters to 44.5% of voters, a 2.5% drop in just one presidential election cycle. In three battleground states — Arizona, Florida, and Texas — their voting share has dropped even more (2.9%, 3.2%, and 2.7%, respectively).
This spells trouble for Trump. Perhaps no other campaign in recent memory has so heavily relied on a single demographic than Trump and non-college educated whites. The fact that this group has shrunk is problematic for the incumbent. While a 2.5% dip in a loyal constituency may not seem sizable, remember that Trump carried Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — the three states that led to a narrow electoral victory — by less than one point each.
Let’s look at it another way.
If turnout remains constant from 2016, just the change in demographics alone would give Biden Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to Wasserman.
Biden’s demographic advantage would be seen in other states as well. Trump’s Arizona margin would drop from 3.5% to 1.6%, in Georgia from 5.1% to 3.5%, and in North Carolina from 3.7% to 2.4%.
Once again, this is demographic change only. This wouldn’t take into account that Trump is less popular now than he was in 2016, or his recent woes with women and even some white voters.
It’s hard for Democrats to get excited about the upcoming election. Understandably so, as the wounds of 2016 remain open.
But if demographics are destiny, then Trump’s destined to be a one-term president.