Interactive: Season the melting pot to your political taste

By Chris Wilson

Last January, at a conference of Hispanic conservatives in Florida, the former Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie laid out the salient challenge facing his party in the clearest possible terms.

"In 2020," Gillespie said, "if the Republican nominee for president gets the same percentage of the white, African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American vote that John McCain got in 2008, a Democrat will be elected to the White House by 14 percentage points."

Concerns over the Republican Party's appeal to minority voters have been front and center since Mitt Romney lost the presidential election,but the math is not new. Gillespie's calculations, which were mentioned in a Timemagazine cover story in March on the Latino vote, are a simple matter of looking at population trends and extrapolating. The Census Bureau provides detailed estimates of population growth by race and ethnicity through 2050. The Hispanic population is expected to triple between 2008 and 2050, while the total number of white, non-Hispanic Americans will remain stagnant.

I wasn't able to reach Gillespie or precisely recreate his math, but the concept is valid. The following interactive lets you play with the figures by adjusting the predicted turnout and party preference among the four major racial and ethnic groups in America for the next nine election cycles.

The interactive starts by taking the Census projections for how many Americans will be old enough to vote from the present through 2048. You can see the total number of people eligible to vote in a given year by clicking the "Total" tab at the top.

On the default tab, "Voters," you see that population reduced down to the electorate by estimating the voter turnout for each group. Remember that the total voting age population includes many who are ineligible to vote, so it will never be 100 percent. The default values, in the controls below the graph, are the 2012 figures. Remember that exit polls figures are imprecise, so these are just ballpark estimates that you can adjust to your liking.

The last step is to divide the demographic blocks into Republican and Democratic voters. Again, by default the divides are from the past election, in which white voters supported Romney by about 20 points while minority voters trended Democratic to varying degrees. When you mouse over the "Voting Behavior" box, you see the demographic layer you're editing split into Democratic and Republican voters. Mouse over the graph to see the result for a given year.

You can't alter the past in this tool, but every time you adjust a number in the controls, it projects the values forward for the next nine presidential elections.

It's easy to poke holes in projections like this. An untold number of unpredictable events could drastically alter the demographics of the country. But population generally develops in predictable ways, and no one is questioning that the trends favor the Democrats.

The bigger question is how much we will care about racial and ethnic divides in the future. If you browse through old Census records on election demographics—what else is there to do on a Saturday night?—you quickly get a sense for the change in what characteristics we think motivate voters. Asrecently as 1972, the Census reported registration and turnout rates for Americans by "ethnic origin," with Germans and Brits clocking in as major voting blocs.

Forty years later, one hears only scattered discussion of national origin in political journalism. (There was a brief discussion, in August, of whether Mitt Romney's trip to Warsaw was an attempt to court Polish American voters, and one does hear a fair amount about Cuban Americans as they compare to other Hispanic voters.)

The best hope for Republicans may not be to improve their share of voters in interactives like the one above, but rather to make such exercises seem absurd. These are not completely different aspirations—number-crunching like this will become irrelevant when the political preferences of the groups even out and the data become uninteresting. That will happen either when both parties are equally palatable to minorities or when a person's status as a Hispanic American, an Asian American, or an African American becomes as noteworthy as German heritage.


The source code for downloading and parsing the population projections, in Python, is available on my Github page. Got questions? Email me at cewilson@yahoo-inc.com.
  • Iran says plane at airport leased to Ghana after U.S.-flagged plane sighting

    Iran says that a plane which landed in Tehran airport flying the American flag was leased to Ghana's presidential office and carrying a business delegation from the West African nation. The New York Times reported on Thursday that a plane owned by the Bank of Utah was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran on Tuesday. Its presence was noteworthy as the United States and Iran have been at loggerheads for decades and the Islamic Republic is subject to economic sanctions. A State Department spokeswoman said on Friday these sanctions "generally prohibit" U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran.

  • Second wave of milder flu hitting Northeast

    NEW YORK (AP) — A second, milder wave of flu is hitting the Northeast.

  • Australia sees 'regroup' on Malaysian plane search in a few days

    By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Australia will decide in a few days whether to alter or scale back the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but will consult all countries involved on any changes, Australia's ambassador to the United States said on Sunday. Kim Beazley told CNN the search countries would "regroup and reconsider" if nothing is found in a section of the Indian Ocean floor now being scanned by a U.S. Navy underwater drone. This includes adjustments to the air and sea surface search efforts and the possibility of bringing in private contractors to replace some military assets, he said. You may well also consider bringing in other underwater search equipment," Beazley said on the "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" program.

  • Former army chief, leftist are only candidates in Egypt presidential poll

    By Maggie Fick and Mahmoud Mourad CAIRO (Reuters) - The former army general who toppled Egypt's first freely elected president will face a leftist politician in next month's presidential election, as they were the only candidates to enter before nominations closed, the committee organizing the vote said. The committee had received paperwork from former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and former parliamentarian and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, it said at a news conference on Sunday, several hours after the deadline had passed. The elections will be held in a barren political climate after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak raised hopes of a robust democracy in the biggest Arab nation. Neither candidate has outlined a strategy for tackling poverty, energy shortages and unemployment that afflict many of Egypt's 85 million people.

  • GRIEVING DAUGHTER ANTICIPATES EACH MOTHER'S DAY WITH DREAD

    DEAR ABBY: It has been a year since my mother passed away. The month of February was especially tough because it was the month of her birthday and also the month in which she died. Mother's Day will be here soon, and I'm already feeling bitter, anticipating all of the commercials, advertising, brunches and everything. I don't want to be bitter about Mother's Day, but I am. How do people typically celebrate Mother's Day when they have lost their mother? -- JODY IN KEARNEY, NEB. DEAR JODY: Please accept my condolences for the loss of your mother. ...

  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal's 'luxury flat'
    Unease in Vatican over cardinal's 'luxury flat'

    An Italian cardinal is moving into a 600-square-metre (6,500 square foot) Vatican apartment in apparent contradiction with Pope Francis's call for a "poor Church", Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Sunday. Tarcisio Bertone is the Vatican's former Secretary of State, a role equivalent to prime minister, and the report said his luxury lodgings were stirring unease as Francis has pushed for clergymen to be more humble. The flat also has a 100-square-metre roof terrace and is next to St Martha's Residence -- a Vatican hotel where Francis has taken up home, spurning the grander Apostolic Palace where popes usually live. La Repubblica said that Bertone's flat would be about 10 times bigger than the apartment where Francis is living and that he was planning to move in before the summer after extensive building work.

  • Ukraine rabbi seeks end to anti-Semitism row - in vain
    Ukraine rabbi seeks end to anti-Semitism row - in vain

    By Aleksandar Vasovic and Alastair Macdonald DONETSK/KIEV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian rabbi whose congregation was the target of an anti-Semitic leaflet that drew global media interest and condemnation from the U.S. government believes it was a hoax and wants to put the matter to rest. But five days after the incident in the restive eastern city of Donetsk, Ukraine's prime minister, anxious to maintain U.S. support against Russia, issued a statement accusing Moscow and told a U.S. TV channel he would find the "bastards" responsible. On Monday evening, as Jews left a synagogue after a Passover service, masked men handed out fliers purported to be from pro-Russian separatists who seized the regional authority building in Donetsk and styled themselves as its government. In an echo of the Holocaust which devastated Ukraine's Jews, it ordered all Jews to register with them or face deportation.

  • Soccer-English premier league results and standings

    April 19 (Infostrada Sports) - Results and standings from the English premier league matches on Saturday Saturday, April 19Aston Villa 0 Southampton 0 Cardiff City 1 Stoke City 1 Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2 Newcastle United 1 Swansea City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3 Fulham 1 West Ham United 0 Crystal Palace 1 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 Liverpool 34 24 5 5 93 42 77 2 Chelsea 35 23 6 6 67 26 75 3 Manchester City 33 22 5 6 88 34 71 -------------------------4 Arsenal 34 20 7 7 59 41 67 -------------------------5 Everton 34 19 9 6 55 34 66 -------------------------6 Tottenham Hotspur 35 19 6 10 51 49 63 7 ...

Follow Yahoo! News

Loading...