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, November 14, 2016

Political Demography at Play in the U.S. and Elsewhere

Underlying all of the demographic analyses about the U.S. election, as well as the Brexit vote, is that the demographic divide is about the "other." In the U.K., the (mis)perception that immigrants were undermining English society helped people (especially those with no real interaction with immigrants, as I noted at the time) to vote to leave the European Union. In the U.S., it was especially less educated whites who wound up giving Donald Trump the electoral college votes he needed from swing states in the midwest. Justin Stoler linked me to an NPR piece on what the exit polls taught us and this conclusion was particularly noteworthy:
... 6. And that leads to what might be the biggest story of the election — Democrats' cratering with blue-collar white voters.
Ohio and Iowa went by huge margins for Trump –- almost 10 points in Iowa and 9 in Ohio. Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (by less than a point), leads in Michigan (by an even smaller margin), and lost by less than 2 points in Minnesota.
These are all states that went for Democrats in six straight presidential elections. They were crucial to the Democratic Blue Wall, and Trump took a sledgehammer to it.
These are people who feel they are being forgotten by the country's "elite" and their anger has turned to immigrants and others who are different (classic xenophobia) and to those who support the "others." Donald Trump clearly fed into and hyped up that kind of rhetoric, but he didn't invent it. The demography of the U.S. and of Europe is changing and political leaders have paid insufficient attention to it. Why? Probably because the problems are large and complex. However, there is no going back on the demographic trends in place in the world--no matter how much some people might wish for that. Things are changing and politicians have to start coping with this reality--including the people who feel they are being left behind. This is what political demography is all about. My son, Greg Weeks, and I have contributed to the political demography literature in our book Irresistible Forces, which examines the forces underlying migration from Latin America to the U.S., and another good resource that everyone in politics should read is the book Political Demography: How Population Changes are Reshaping International Security and National Politics, edited by Jack Goldstone, Eric Kaufmann, and Monica Duffy Toft.

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