Trende On White Voters and Winning Coalitions

Many point to the 2012 election as the cataclysmic coalition-shifting event that will forever mark the end of the GOP, lest it transform itself.

But Sean Trende has pointed out data showing that the party may not be too far from a winning coalition. He looks at the percentage of the electorate made up of various ethnic groups. Minority voters slightly increased their percentage of the electorate, but according to Trende, this many not be what it seems:

The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator.

Trende predicts a 6-7 million person drop-off in white voters from 2008. He highlights Ohio as a place where this probably hurt Romney.

Importantly, the Democrats didn’t add these white non-voters to their coalition. This means that there are registered white voters out there waiting to be persuaded, many of whom may have belonged to a Republican coalition in the past. If these voters can be activated in 2016 (which will obviously require some changes in the approach), then the electorate may look more like the GOP’s winning coalition from 2004. Of course, the GOP may still try to change its coalition by appealing to other demographic groups.

Exit polls and pundits will flesh out the relevant data for weeks to come. But be wary of those suggesting the GOP needs a complete overhaul to ever win another election. As Trende mentions, people suggested a Democratic Party overhaul after 2004. If anything, it’s still as liberal as it was then, just with a few upgrades (better candidate, better technology).

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