A shell-shocked Right continues to reel from the results of the election, seemingly blindsided by the power of the multicultural masses. They'll rightly use the next four years to do some soul-searching and strategizing on how to better embrace America's new "demographic" reality. But I'd argue that the GOP knew exactly what was coming in 2012, given the extreme voter ID requirements they supported in key states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas. We were told that these measures were necessary to keep fraud at bay, but they cynic in me says that they were designed to keep the "demographics" away on E-Day.
"Demographics" has become a code word for "change," a way of euphemistically talking about diversity. Political pundits and network news anchors love to talk about how "demographics" -- 71 percent of the Latino vote, 93 percent of the African American vote, and 73 percent of the Asian vote -- overpowered the white vote and won the election for Obama.
But demographics didn't win the election; rather, 2012 was the ratification of the New America, a witness to the fact that diversity isn't something that is coming to America -- 2020 and 2050 are often erroneously cited as possible arrival dates -- but rather something that is already here.
Millennials have been aware of this fact for some time. My 25-year-old daughter has grown up in an America where half of her under-30 peers are people of color. (She also grew up in a Chicago where whites, at 45 percent of the population, have long been a minority.) The 2012 election was where the rest of America got a taste of her reality.
But here's the rub: Those "demographics" -- non-white voters -- represented just 28 percent of the electorate in 2012, according to analysis from my Chicago-based policy shop. That 28 percent has the potential to grow exponentially in 2016, as Census data tell us that today's age 10-19 population -- many of whom will vote for the first time in the next election -- is 45 percent non-white. While these youth numbers don't correlate directly with the realities of the 2016 electorate (aside from the obvious fact that 14-year-olds can't vote, there are compounding factors that will keep many of these youth from casting a ballot on November 8, 2016), the new demographic reality is evident. Further proof is offered by a recent PEW Hispanic Center report demonstrating how the Latino electorate will likely double in 2016, accounting for a jaw-dropping 40 percent of the growth in the eligible electorate over the next four years.
Call them voter ID requirements or voter suppression measures, these efforts backfired -- horribly -- for the GOP. An estimated 11 million Latino voters cast a ballot this year, up 13 percent from 2008's record-breaking figure of 9.75 million. And some speculate that voter suppression was precisely what drove "angered and shocked" African American voters to the polls -- to overwhelmingly throw their support behind Obama.
Slate put it best -- or at least most bluntly: "Only white people voted for Mitt Romney."
Even with some nuance -- "not quite only" -- the reality is that 88 percent of Romney's voter base was the rapidly-disappearing white demographic. The other 12 percent was cobbled together from just two percent of both African American and Asian voters, six percent of Latinos, and two percent of "other" non-white voters.
As the minority vote emerges into the new majority, efforts to squelch these strong "demographics" will only continue to backfire. The New America has arrived, it is diverse, and it is here to stay. The survival of the GOP will depend on the party's ability -- their willingness -- to embrace the very demographic realities that they seem to either fear or continue to deny.