This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, April 4, 2011

How Might America's Changing Demographics Affect Politics?

This week's Economist looked at the 2010 Census Redistricting data from the perspective of what this might mean for the political landscape in the US. We won't have detailed age data for the country until May, but the redistricting data do break the population into the two age groups of under 18 (i.e., not of voting age), and 18 and older. The 18 and older non-Hispanic white population in the US grew very slightly between 2000 and 2010, but there were fewer non-Hispanic whites under the age of 18 in 2010 than there had been in 2000. The same was true for blacks, although the loss at the younger ages was not as large in percentage terms as for the whites. At the same time, there were substantial gains in both age groups for Hispanics and Asians.

What all this means for politics is the subject of some dispute. Right-wing analysts herald the ballooning population of the Republican-leaning states in the South and West and the relative stagnation of the Democratic bastions in the Midwest and north-east as proof of the superiority of Republican policies. What is more, they crow, faster growth is bringing more seats in the House of Representatives to Republican states, which could help to cement their current majority. Conservative Texas, for example, is gaining four seats in the reapportionment set in train by last year’s census; liberal New York is losing two.
But Democrats counter that the growth the Republicans are celebrating comes from natural Democratic constituencies. Minorities, they point out, tend to vote Democratic, whereas the dwindling white, rural population is largely Republican. By this logic, Democratic infiltrators are gradually undermining Republicans’ control over their territory from within. Barack Obama, after all, carried previously Republican-leaning western and southern states such as Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia on his way to the White House in 2008. If he can maintain his share of the vote among blacks and Latinos, he will be hard to beat in 2012.

1 comment:

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