Changing Electorate Will Have Impact On Elections

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

America is changing. We are becoming more diverse with each passing year and that diversity is going to start having an impact on elections. It’s a bitter thought for some who would hold on to America’s white, male dominated society of the past.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, all 50 states in America saw their share of what are called non-Hispanic White eligible voters decline between 2000 and 2018. Ten states, in fact, saw their White eligible voter population fall by double digits. This change occurred because Hispanics are a growing percentage of their state populations and because they are getting older.

During that same period, Hispanic voters have come to make up increasingly larger shares of the electorate in every state. These gains are particularly large in the southwestern U.S., where states like Texas, Nevada, and California have seen rapid growth in the Hispanic share of eligible voters. Florida and Arizona are following the trend. While California has been a solid Democratic state for decades, Arizona and Texas have been reliable Republican states. The growing Hispanic population could change outcomes in presidential elections in the not too distant future.

Though Whites are becoming a smaller portion of the electorate in southwestern states, they still have an advantage, Pew says. Whites have historically been more politically active in elections than Hispanics. Because they vote in larger numbers, they can still control election outcomes.

When you see the actual numbers, the reality of the coming shift in electoral power hits home. In the 18 years between 2000 and 2018, the number of Americans eligible to vote in an election increased by 40.3 million, going from 193.4 million to 233.7 million, Pew reports. “Voters who are Hispanic, Black, Asian or another race or ethnicity accounted for 76 percent of this growth,” Pew’s study showed.

About 138 million Americans voted in 2016 with President Trump actually losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million.

Pew is quick to point out that all racial and ethnic groups don’t vote as a unified block. They, too, are divided between Republicans and Democrats, though minorities have generally favored Democrats. It is one of the reasons, Democrats charge, that Republicans consistently try to put up hurdles to minorities voting.

Further, Pew says, each presidential candidate brings his or her own personality to the election. In our society, celebrity, attractiveness, and charisma play a big role in who we choose. It isn’t always the most competent person who is elected.

Pew’s study showed that it wasn’t new citizens, immigrants, who were behind the large growth in non-White eligible voter growth. Rather, it was the children of immigrants – the second generation coming of voting age.

Between 2000 and 2010, the non-Hispanic White voting population grew from 24 to 28 percent Pew found. Between 2010 and 2018 it grew even faster, from 28 percent to 33 percent. For 2020, it will be an even higher share.

While they are accounting for a sizeable share of eligible voter growth in America, Hispanics still only accounted for 13 percent of the electorate 2018. Yet, that is up from 7 percent in 2010.

It is the southern battleground states, the growing percentage of Hispanic voters could have an immediate impact on the elections of 2020. In 2000, Whites made up nearly 75 percent of the voting population in Florida and Arizona, Pew says. In 2018, that percentage was down close to 60 percent. North Carolina is also seeing a growing non-white electorate.

In the North’s battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, the drop in the White percentage of the electorate isn’t so pronounced but it is still there.

Texas is not considered a battleground. It has been a solid Republican stronghold for decades. However, as the demographics of the state continues to change with Hispanics becoming an ever-larger portion of the electorate, some think it will eventually be a state Democrats can flip. According to Pew, Whites in Texas now make up only 51 percent of the population.

Power will shift in America in the coming years as urban areas grow and as minorities become a larger voting bloc. Those who overreach now will set precedent for future years just as those who did so in the past have. In his actions to block President Obama Supreme Court justice pick, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell took what he called a principled stand - let the people decide who they want to choose the next candidate for the Supreme Court. It was February 2016, nine months before the election.

Now with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death less than two months before the election, McConnell rushes the pick. There is nothing the Democrats can do. However, we can hear them ask a single question in the future when they have power: “What would Mitch do?” It’s a cynical question but one of bitter reality.

We idealize fair play but learn it is a naïve concept with those who adhere to it played by the power brokers. In McConnel’s Washington there are no principles, just raw contemptuous power.  Democrats will treat Republicans as they are being treated now in coming years. America loses under such a political system.

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