Examining the role Black, Latinos and other key voting groups will play in the 2012 election, the Center for American Progress recently released a groundbreaking report entitled The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012
Authored by Center for American Progress Senior Fellows Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin the report analyzes whether the “the rising electorate of communities of color, the Millennial generation, professionals, single women, and seculars that pushed Obama to victory in 2008 will be sufficient “ to secure President Obama’s reelection or whether “the Republican Party and its presidential nominee capitalize on a struggling economy and greater mobilization from a conservative base that holds the president in deep disdain.”
According to remarks from Teixeira at a recent panel to discuss the paper, he sought to determine how demographics and economics would factor into the election outcome on a national level. There is also added emphasis on the state level, particularly in certain swing states.
Teixeira and Halpin’s analysis contends that changing demographics will mean more minority voters in the upcoming election, but growing contention with the current state of the economy could mean less Latino and minority turnout for the President.
“Certainly his general support from these voters remains high, especially among Blacks, but that level of support will be difficult to obtain in 2012. Democratic presidential support
among minorities was lower in the two other presidential elections of the last decade: 71 percent in 2004 and 75 percent in 2000,” the paper states.
“A cautious estimate would put Obama’s minority support in 2012 in the mid-range of recent results—75 percent—rather than at the 2008 level. Overall then a reasonable
expectation for 2012 is that the minority share of voters will rise to around
28 percent, and that 75 percent of those voters will support Obama. It should be noted, however, that the poor economy could undercut this estimate. If economic pessimism is high enough, minority enthusiasm for Obama may decline to the point where even the
75 percent support figure is difficult to attain,” states the paper.
According to the paper, Obama obtained “80 percent support from communities of color, who made up 26 percent of all voters” in 2008.
The recent panel forum to discuss the paper included experts such as Pew Hispanic Center Director Paul Taylor, Atlantic Media Political Director Ronald Brownstein and New York Times Correspondent Jackie Calmes.
Taylor mentioned the Latino population “continues to grow at a rapid rate,” but also referenced the wealth gap between Latino and White Americans, along with the fact the Hispanic children experience poverty at a greater rate than any other race of children.
“One of the things to understand about the Latino community is it is economically at the margins in this country … and how that plays out politically remains to be seen,” he said.
Teixeira provided his assessment of what strategies both parties could employ to secure victory, including how to sway the critical White college graduate vote.
“I would argue that what Obama is currently doing makes a fair amount of sense, he’s emphasizing the jobs issue, he’s trying to improve the economy in any way he can … he’s trying to put more of the onus on the Republicans for the bad economy and this is a classic incumbent strategy,” he said. “Trying to raise popular issues like preserving social security and Medicare, increase taxes on the rich. Basically it’s to highlight relatively extreme positions of the other side that are massively unpopular that’s going to be hard for them to wiggle out of. That’s his strategy, that’s what he’s doing, and I think it will work pretty well with minorities, I think it will work pretty well with White college graduates …”
“Conversely for the Republicans, I think the way they want to run is actually not going to be that different from state to state. They clearly want to drive down the White college graduate vote. Above all, they want to increase the White working class margin in their favor … they want to talk relentlessly about the economy … stay away from anything that
seems extreme and project at least an image of moderation. They want to avoid some of the more hard line Tea Party positions that have become associated with the Republican party,” he said.
The paper also frontally addressed how securing these voters could influence election outcomes:
“ … Given solid, but not exceptional, performance among minority voters, Obama’s re-election depends on either holding his 2008 white college-graduate support, in which case he can survive a landslide defeat of 2010 proportions among white working-class voters, or holding his slippage among both groups to around 2004 levels, in which case he can still squeak out a victory,” the paper states. “Conversely, if Republicans can cut significantly into Obama’s white college-graduate support and then replicate the landslide margins they achieved among white working-class voters in 2010, they are likely to emerge victorious.”