Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Are you demographic? part 2


I was just eavesdropping on a conversation by a notorious American expatriate Republican, who likes to preach to the heathens British. I can see the appeal for both sides: He gets to spool out superficial right-wing talking points without being challenged, because his interlocutor has no sense of the details; and the Brits feel like they’re hearing some inside dope that sounds entirely different than the line they get from the British press. For instance, America is two nations — coasts and interior (presumably the Great Lakes count as oceans for this purpose) — and that the liberal coastal states are about to sink under the weight of their unfunded mandates

So the future belongs to heartland Republicans, and one reason, he explains, is that the liberal Babylon is losing population to the right-thinking interior. This isn’t entirely true: West coast states are all growing at above-average rates, as are Maryland and Delaware. It’s mostly the industrial Midwest that’s sinking. But the argument is based on an assumption that geography is destiny. Growing the demographic power of staunchly Republican states is not the same thing as growing the demographic power of Republicans.

People don’t adopt the political colours of their new homes (as this fellow should surely understand) rapid growth of North Carolina and Virginia, for example, has been linked to migration from less conservative regions, and to urbanisation, both of which have converted reliably Republican-voting states into Democratic-leaning ones. Population growth in Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada has been cited by many experts as harbingers of future Democratic strength, as much of the increase is coming in Hispanic populations, who have shown much higher affinity with the Democrats.

(The habit of describing ethnic minority voters as being demographically determined was the target of my previous Are you demographic? post.)

 

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