U. S. Demographics: Then and Now

Much of what is driving the political landscape is demographics. In the United States in 1860, just before the U.S. Civil War, consisted mostly of either “white” protestants; “blacks,” most of whom were slaves; and very few “Indians,” most of whom lived on reservations. Obviously slaves could not vote but were all freed in 1865. Women could not vote until 1920. The citizens also could not directly vote for Senators until 1913. Before then, they were chosen by the various state legislatures.

The actual statistics from 1860 were:

Total Population: 31,443,321

“White”: 26,922,537 (86%)

“Black”: 4,441,830 (14%)

“Indian”: 44,021 (0.14%)

“Asian”: 34,933 (0.11%)

“Hispanic”: 155,000 (0.5%)


Indian is American Indian, Eskimo and Aleut. Asian is Asian and Pacific Islander. Hispanic can be of any race and overlaps with the other categories. The “Hispanic” figure is a very much later estimate and is not based upon census data at that time. I gather the other categories are based upon self-identification (or visual identification by census takers). 

Now step forward to 1930, towards the end of the period of Republican domination:

Total Population: 122,775,046

“White”: 110,286,740 (90%)

“Black”: 11,891,143 (10%)

“Indian”: 332,397 (0.27%)

“Asian”: 264,766 (0.22%)

“Hispanic”: 2,021,820 (1.6%) – figure from 1940


The “Hispanic” figure is a later post-census estimate.

Also the nature of the “white” population had changed, and that is a long discussion that I will avoid. It was no longer mostly Anglo, but included considerable number of people from or descended from Germany, Ireland, Italy, various Eastern European countries, etc. This immigration also brought in a considerable number of Catholics and Jews. Some of these groups also faced some discrimination.

And then we get to 1980, towards the end of the period of Democratic domination:

Total Population: 226,545,805

“White”: 188,371,622 (83%)

“Black”: 26,495,025 (12%)

“Indian”: 1,420,400 (0.6%)

“Asian”: 3,500,439 (1.5%)

“Hispanic”: 14,608,673 (6%)

“Other”: 6,758,319 (3%)


And to move up until today (2020, projected) – the end of what may be the period of contested control:

Total Population: 333,896,000

“White”: 255,346,000 (76%)

“Black”: 44,810,000 (13%)

“Indian”: 4,328,000 (1.3%)

“Asian”: 19,708,000 (6%)

“Hispanic”: 63,784,000 (19%)

“Two or more races”: 9,703,000 (3%)


So, Latino’s, other minorities and mixed race people now are up to 42% of the population. In 1980 it was 23%. This is a significant change, especially if one political party does better with some of these groups than others. 

It is clear that this shift is having a big effect on U.S. politics. Of course, that is saying the obvious, but this is a major driver in why I think one party is about to re-establish dominance. 

This entry was posted in Demographics, U.S. Politics by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

2 thoughts on “U. S. Demographics: Then and Now

  1. OK. So I will stick my head above the parapet and ask – which party and why will they dominate?

    This is a dumb question from someone (Australian) who does not know US politics.

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