It is no secret that younger voters are rejecting the Republican Party while older ones form the backbone of GOP support. The 2018 blue wave was due in large part to youth turnout. Younger voters are taking to the airwaves to discuss how the GOP is abandoning them. Moreover, and ominously for Republicans, the college/non-college education gap virtually disappears with young voters — Millennial and Gen Z voters of all education levels are overwhelmingly voting Democratic.
But why is this, exactly? The answer, Philip Bump noted in the Washington Post, is one that should make Republicans worried.
It turns out that the newest generations are far more racially diverse than older generations. “The most common age in the United States is 27, a function of the population boom that marked the millennial generation and of the natural effects of the baby boomers getting older,” wrote Bump. “But that most-common age isn’t the same across racial or ethnic groups. Among black Americans, the most common age is 27, as it is for nonwhite Americans overall. The most common age among whites? Fifty-eight.”
The relationship between race and voting is heavily understood, as civil rights issues have become sharply polarized between the two political parties.
“We’re already seeing some effects of these demographic changes,” wrote Bump. “Exit polling collected by the Roper Center suggests that nearly 9 in 10 voters in 1976 were white and that 52 percent of them backed the Republican presidential candidate (Gerald Ford). By 1980, Ronald Reagan earned 56 percent of the white vote, which made up 88 percent of the electorate. Ford lost by 2 points. Reagan won by nearly 10. The white vote was critical. Fast-forward to 2016. White voters made up 70 percent of the vote, according to exit polling. (Census Bureau data has a slightly higher figure.) President Trump earned 57 percent of the white vote — just a bit more than Reagan got in 1980.”
Republicans can probably fight off collapse for a few more election cycles, as older voters are also the most reliable bloc for turnout. But unless there is a major realignment of the political parties, the GOP in its current form cannot survive the diversifying of America — and the polarization of young and old voters is a key early warning sign for them.