By Ryan McNeely
CAP Action Fund’s Ruy Texiera has published an excellent report titled “Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties” that builds on the analysis in The Emerging Democratic Majority using data from the 2008 election. The bottom line is that the minority vote share is increasing rapidly, and along with other demographic trends, it’s difficult to imagine “the Republican Party as currently constituted” being viable over the long-term.
The report is chock-full of interesting findings, but one item that I believe is under-discussed is that the effort of Republicans to woo Latino voters based on their alleged social conservatism (in the hopes that they will ignore some of the more ugly nativist rhetoric on the Right) seems to be flawed:
Hispanics overall also are not nearly as socially conservative as many believe. A Center for American Progress survey in 2009 showed that Hispanics actually had the highest average score of all racial groups on a 10-item progressive cultural index. Surveys have repeatedly shown that Hispanics are no more conservative on gay marriage than whites are. And younger Hispanics are typically more progressive than their older counterparts on social issues, so generational replacement will make tomorrow’s Hispanic population less socially conservative than today’s.
Another interesting finding is the significant growth rate of key subgroups of women who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. I’ve found that there is a tendency to discuss “women” as if they are like any other interest group or constituency, but women are in fact the majority of voters. So, by definition, if more and more women identify as Democrats, then to cobble together a majority Republicans must lock in an even larger lead among male voters.
Now, it’s important to be skeptical of claims the one of the two major parties is “doomed” or is on the brink of permanent irrelevance. The cyclical nature of things means that the parties will basically alternate in power. But Texiera argues that the Republican party “must, quite simply, become less conservative” in order to adapt to demographic trends. He is careful to note, though, that “if the Democrats fail to produce—whether through ineffective programs, fiscal meltdown, or both—even an unreformed GOP will remain very competitive,” so there’s no reason for liberals to rest on their laurels.