Republicans Are Facing a Mighty Big Headwind in 2016


Democrats do better in elections when the minority population grows. Everyone knows that. And the minority population is, in fact, growing. Everyone knows that, too. So does that mean Democrats are sure winners in future presidential contests?

Hardly. But it does put Republicans in a bind, since it means they need to increase their voting share among minorities. This is going to be tough, since they’ve done nothing much to appeal to non-white voters over the past decade or so. Still, in 2016 at least Barack Obama won’t be on the ballot. So maybe, just maybe, Republicans have a chance to recover the level of minority support they enjoyed in 2004, back when two white guys were running against each other.

But it turns out that even here the news is bad. Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress ran the numbers to see how Republicans would do if their minority support in 2016 rose back to 2004 levels. Here are the results in two big swing states:

Republicans would still win Florida—barely—but would lose Ohio badly. This is a state that Bush won handily in 2004, and one that Republicans can’t do without. By 2016, however, voters of color will make up such a large share of the Ohio electorate that even 2004 levels of support won’t win the state for Republicans. They’ll have to do even better than that, and the same is true in several other key swing states. Here’s Oakford:

This analysis shows—through a variety of election simulations—that as people of color become a larger share of states’ electorates, it will be crucial for both Republicans and Democrats to secure the support of this vital voter cohort….For Republicans, simply repeating the history of 2004—obtaining significant support among voters of color—will not necessarily mean a win in many swing states, including Ohio and Nevada.

The GOP has a tough presidential row to hoe in 2016. They aren’t sure losers by any stretch, but to win they’re going to have to do a lot better among minority voters than they’ve done anytime recently. It’s not clear what their plan is to do that.