The Demographics of the Last Election

The last three “political” posts referred to the sense that this latest election may be the start of a new period of single party dominance. We the looked at the changing demographics in the United States and then the change of religion. These three posts are here:

Is the United States on the Verge of Becoming a Single Party Democracy? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

U. S. Demographics: Then and Now | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Religion in the U.S. over Time | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

So, why does this matter? Well, let us look at who voted for whom in this last presidential election. This is from the CNN exit polls, which while not “perfect,” they are good enough for this discussion:

Race:………………Percent…….Biden…….Trump

White:……………..67%…………41%………..58%

Black:……………..13%…………87%………..12%

Latino:……………13%…………65%…………32%

Asian:…………….04%…………61%…………34%

Other:…………….04%…………55%…………41%

 

To read the first line:, “white” made up 67% of the 15,590 people polled. 41% of them voted for Biden, 58% of them voted for Trump. 

Religion……….Percent……Biden……Trump

Protestant:……43%………..39%………60%

Catholic:………25%………..52%………47%

Jewish…………02%

Other…………..08%………..69%………29%

None…………..22%………..65%……….31%

 

Of course, this is an exit poll, so the actual figures may be a couple of percent off, although it is a pretty big poll and exit polls tend to be more accurate than most other polling. The exit poll results are here: https://www.cnn.com/election/2020/exit-polls/president/national-results

Now, there are whole lot of other factors influencing the voter behavior in addition to race and religion but this is enough to look at to establish my point. Now, lets us say we have an electorate that is:

White: 76-19 = 57%

Black: 13%

Asian: 6

Hispanic: 19

Other: 4


Then a Democratic candidate with the same pull as Biden would take 53 percent of the vote (.57 x .41 + .13 x .87 + .06 x .61 + .19 x . 65 + .04 x ..55 = .5289) while a Republican candidate with the same pull as Trump would take 44 percent of the vote (.57 x .58 + .13 x .12 + .06 x .34 + .19 x .32 + 04 x . 41 = .4438). This means that popular vote would split around 53% to 44%, which is a solid and secure lead for the Democratic candidate. In 2020 the popular vote split 51.3% to 46.9%. Turn out in 2020 was 66.7% of registered votes, which is the highest turn out in any U.S. presidential election since 1900 (McKinley vs Bryan). Turnout was below 50% in 1920 (Harding vs Cox), 1924 (Coolidge vs Davis vs La Follette) and in 1996 (Clinton vs Dole vs Perot). Turnout is big issue in the final vote totals, especially as not all age groups and other groups have the same rates of turnout.

So, looking just at demographics is does appear that on the national level the Democrats will continue to hold an advantage of several percentage points over the Republicans unless:

  1. The Republicans expand their reach into the “minorities” votes (Blacks, Asians, or Hispanics). Right now, they are behind in all three, and there does not seem to be strong reason for this to change in the near future.
  2. The Republicans maximize the “white” vote to around 65%.
  3. The demographics of the U.S. changes significantly away from the growing representation of “minorities.” There is no reason to believe that this will happen. 

In fact, most likely that demographics of the U.S. will continue to slowly move to even a larger percent of people identified as minorities. So, if the situation is bad now for the Republicans, it will only get worse over time unless there is a major change. This is part of the reason why I tend to believe that we are looking at an extended period of a single dominant political party. And this is not discussing religion.

But, religion is an issue. We have gone from 1970 to there being only 8% of the population telling Gallup that they are not Christian to 31% in 2017 that do not identify themselves as Christian. Now, it would take a huge cultural shift to change that back. Most likely that 31% will remain the same or get larger over time. If it gets larger over time, then this also works against the Republicans. Going back the exit polls, in this last election 60% of Protestants voted for Trump while 65% to 69% of “other” and “none” voted for Biden. So unless there is suddenly a nationwide religious “revival,” this is not going to get any more favorable to the Republicans in the long run.

So, two long-term trends working against them sort of ensures that more often than not, the Democrats with control the House, Senate and Presidency for many decades to come. And these are not the only long term trends working against them (for example, among voters at 18-24: 65% voted for Biden, only 31% for Trump).

There are a lot of little things that play with the conclusions and overturn them occasionally. This includes who is running for each party, what policies they adopt, which scandals/controversies occur, and probably most important, whether the economy is heading up or down during an election year. But the long term pattern is looking pretty certain. 

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.

4 thoughts on “The Demographics of the Last Election

  1. One question from a non-US person then: given those figures, surely the Democratic Party should be winning bigger than they are currently? Does the composition of individual states or districts or whatever mean the Republicans turn votes into seats/college votes more efficiently?

    • That is some of it. Voter turn-out is also a big issue, as older voters tend to vote more often, while the younger voters do not. There are also differences in voter turn-out rates by race, background, wealth, and education. The voter turn-out in the last election was 66.7%, which is the highest rate since 1900. Back then women could not vote. We have had three presidential elections in the last century where voter turn-out rate was below 50% (1920, 1924, 1996). Also the voter turn-out rates during the off-year elections (none presidential election years when they only vote for the House and 1/3rd of the Senate, like in 2018 and in 2022) tends to be two-thirds of the turn-out rate of the presidential elections.

      The tendency is that higher voter turn-out tends to favor the Democrats and lower voter turn-out tends to favor the Republicans. See the comment below by Dr. Alicata.

  2. I have long thought the Republican Party was involved in voter suppression strategies because the demographics were strongly against their success. Your analysis reinforced my thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *