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The Future of Red, Blue and Purple America: Election Demographics, 2008 and Beyond

The evolution of American politics and policy has been intimately bound with demographic and geographic change. The arrival of the “GI generation”, the advance of suburbanization, the rise of the baby boomers and women’s entry into the workforce all had profound effects on our society.

Today, new demographic and geographic changes are shifting the fault lines of American politics. This conference of leading demographers, geographers and analysts examined seven of the most important changes. The first paper examines the structure of the all important American suburbs, with a fresh look at the small but rapidly growing exurbs. The second paper analyzes the provocative notion of geographic clustering—the idea that people are increasingly likely to live near, and vote like, those who look, act and think just like them—and what that could mean for politics and policy. The third paper investigates race and immigration, examining changes in the size and voting patterns of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Changing class structure, including the decline of the white working class and the rise of the mass upper middle class, is the subject of the fourth paper.

The last three papers look at, respectively, changes in the American family, including the decline in the number of married couple households with children, and the rise of singles; whether America is becoming more secular, more religious, or both and what these changes in religious belief and practice mean for our politics; and the aging of the baby boomers and the rise of the millennials, the largest generation in American history.

Campaign 2008 has already provided some tantalizing clues about the shifts underway in red, blue and purple America. This conference explained where these trends came from, assess their likely effects on this year’s election and outline the ways they may affect our political future and the policy challenges both parties have to face.

This conference was hosted by The Future of Red, Blue and Purple America, a joint Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute project.

Event Audio and Video » (external link)

Event Materials:




Ruy Teixeira

Former Brookings Expert

Senior Fellow - Center for American Progress

Panel I Presenters: Geography

Panel I Discussants

Panel II Presenters: Race and Class

Ruy Teixeira

Former Brookings Expert

Senior Fellow - Center for American Progress

Panel II Discussants

Panel III Presenters: Family, Religion, and Generational Change

Panel III Discussants


Anna Greenberg

Senior Vice President - Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

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