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The force of demography on presidential elections from 2016 to 2032

William H. Frey

The 2016 presidential election and the all-important Electoral College will be heavily impacted by the nation’s changing demography— its increasing racial diversity, aging largely white Baby Boom population, and uneven population shifts between Snow Belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and Sun Belt states like Arizona, Georgia, and Texas.

This newly released eBook, “America’s Electoral Future,” by William H. Frey, Ruy Teixeira, and Robert Griffin explores how demographic changes in the electorate could shape outcomes of the 2016 election – as well as the four subsequent presidential elections. For each election, from 2016 to 2032, the study identifies solid blue, solid red, and “swing” states that would result under various voting scenarios. These scenarios are based on national and state demographic projections produced by the States of Change project, an American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and Center for American Progress collaboration.

Democratic candidates in presidential elections will increasingly fare better than republican candidates in most future scenarios presented— including those that assume that the 2004, 2008, and 2012 election voting patterns get applied to the nation’s changing, more racially diverse demography. Yet there are wide variations in the final results among the scenarios presented for each election, displayed in maps and statistical appendices. In addition to changes in states’ demographics, election results also depend on voter turnout and candidate preferences that are built into these scenarios. The latter will be influenced by many factors such as national economic conditions, candidate appeal, and the extent to which candidates are able to generate enthusiasm among the electorate.

However, the force of demography will become increasingly important as the results of this study reveal.

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