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, June 4, 2012

The Demographics of the 2012 Presidential Election

The 2010 Census confirmed that the demographics of the US continue to change in rather dramatic ways. This is not the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) country of the 1950s. Immigration has changed that, although since many immigrants are not citizens, and their children may not yet be of voting age, the electorate is less demographically different from the past than is the population at large. These and other demographic issues related to the upcoming Presidential Election are the topics of an Opinion piece in today's New York Times by Thomas Edsall, a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and author of “ The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics.”   The politics of race/ethnicity and religion are of particular interest to Edsall:
In a study published in February 2008, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Lifefound that mainline Protestants, once the dominant force not only in politics but in the national culture, had fallen to 18.1 percent of the electorate, behind both Protestant evangelicals and Catholics – and barely ahead of the fast-growing category of “unaffiliated,” which reached 16.1 percent.
But, here's the demographically most interesting bit, and I have underlined the punch line:
As presently constituted, the Republicans have become the party of the married white Christian past. This stance proved effective in the 1970s and 1980s, and again in 1994 and 2010, but time is running out. Will the party, of necessity, become more amenable to religious diversity? Will conservatives embrace immigration reform? Will Republicans try to drive a wedge between Hispanic and black voters in an effort to fracture the Democratic coalition? And will Republicans look to a more subdued form of capitalist competition?
 How will the Democratic Party cope with the fast approaching moment when non-Hispanic whites become a minority of its voters? Will Democratic presidential nominating contests become explicitly racial and ethnic? Will religious non-observance and a larger role for the state in the economy become explicit hallmarks of the center-left?
Edsall does not claim to have answers to those questions, but we should all give them some serious thought.

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