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.
  • Final Glance: Gold companies

    Shares of some top gold companies were down at the close of trading: Barrick Gold Corp. fell $.10 or .5 percent, to $18.74. Gold Fields unchanged at $3.86. GoldCorp. fell $.07 or .3 percent, to $27.41. ...

  • 10 Things to Know for Today
    10 Things to Know for Today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

  • Jobless claims fall to lowest level since early 2006
    Jobless claims fall to lowest level since early 2006

    By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly 8-1/2 years last week, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining traction. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 for the week ended July 19, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The data provided further confirmation that the labor market is tightening. "This is consistent with another payroll reading for July, but it will probably not be as strong as June," said Sam Bullard, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Cruise passengers recount horror stories to Senate

    Laurie Dishman told senators through tears Wednesday that she was choked and raped on a Royal Caribbean cruise by one of the line's employees, using her experience to shed light on the dangers that passengers ...

  • Hamas tactics exact high toll in Israeli ground thrust
    Hamas tactics exact high toll in Israeli ground thrust

    By Noah Browning GAZA (Reuters) - Using tunnels, mines, booby traps and snipers, Hamas fighters have inflicted record casualties on Israeli troops waging an offensive in the Gaza Strip, applying years of training in urban warfare with a new tactical acumen and suicidal resolve. The Israelis say weapons and know-how supplied by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah make Hamas a more formidable foe. Four days after Israel launched a withering ground assault on the Palestinian Islamist militants in their stronghold of Shejaia following intensive air strikes, the army still does not have complete control of the area. Exploiting a vast network of secret tunnels to snipe at enemy troops and blast their vehicles even inside Israel, Hamas has killed 32 Israeli soldiers -- almost three times as many as in the last major ground clashes in a 2008-9 conflict.

  • Missing Air Algerie plane from Burkina Faso has crashed: Algerian official
    Missing Air Algerie plane from Burkina Faso has crashed: Algerian official

    By Hamid Ould Ahmed ALGIERS (Reuters) - An Air Algerie flight crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers with 110 passengers on board, an Algerian aviation official said. There were few clear indications of what might have happened to the aircraft, or whether there were casualties, but Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedrago said it asked to change route at 0138 GMT because of a storm in the area. "I can confirm that it has crashed," the Algerian official told Reuters, declining to be identified or give any details about what had happened to the aircraft on its way north. Niger security sources said planes were flying over the border region with Mali to search for the flight.

  • Chinese billionaires criticised for giving Harvard $15m
    Chinese billionaires criticised for giving Harvard $15m

    A Chinese billionaire couple have faced a deluge of criticism for donating $15 million to one of the richest and most prestigious universities in the US, with Internet users saying it would be better spent on students in China. Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the husband-and-wife duo behind real estate giant SOHO China, are giving $100 million to fund disadvantaged Chinese students at top universities across the globe. The first stage of the programme was last week's gift to Harvard, widely regarded as one of the world's best universities. Pan is not only one of China's wealthiest people but also one of the country's most-celebrated "Big V" bloggers, with nearly 17 million followers on Sina Weibo, at times drawing attention from the authorities.

  • British MP sorry over Gaza 'fire a rocket' tweet
    British MP sorry over Gaza 'fire a rocket' tweet

    A British lawmaker apologised Wednesday after tweeting that he would likely fire rockets into Israel if he lived in the Gaza Strip. "The big question is -- if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? -- probably yes," Liberal Democrat member of parliament David Ward said on Twitter. The Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, to suspend Ward once again from the junior party in Britain's governing coalition.

Follow Yahoo! News

Loading...