This opinion article does not reflect the opinion of BUnow, and reflects only the opinion of the author.
After much talk of a red wave during the midterm elections, the Republican Party did not see more than a puddle. Contrarily, the Democrats performed astoundingly well given the seemingly perfect conditions for a Republican comeback, such as inflation at a staggering 10%, crime at record highs, and millions of illegal immigrants flooding into the nation. They performed so well that the Democrats won the Senate. The President’s party almost always loses seats in Congress during midterms, too, which makes the Democrat gains and success that much more amazing given the aforementioned conditions.
Many on the right blame former President Donald Trump, his endorsements, and denialism of the 2020 election for the downfall. While this may play a part, could there be more? Could there be something else that drove the GOP’s 2022 disappointment. The more one looks at the numbers, demographics is a significant reason as to why the GOP failed so much in the midterms.
Before beginning, regarding President Trump, it is a fact that he is one of, if not, the most controversial figures in all of American history. However, for the most part, when Trump endorsed a candidate, they won. As of November 10th, 2022, 219 people that Trump endorsed, which include Congress and state legislatures, won the general election and only 16 lost. That is a success rate of over 93%. Of course, one can delve into the specific context and scenarios of each race and find some races were more contentious and important than others, but the point still stands. There must be something more to the devastating Republican loss than Donald Trump, who was neither on the ballot nor President.
Naturally and obviously, elections are about voters. The very basics of campaigning is to spread a message to one’s base and independent voters in order to get them to vote for oneself. The problem for the GOP lies in the loss of their base and the growth of liberalism amongst new voters. If this continues, whether Trump or Ron DeSantis is the Republican nominee for President in 2024, there may not be a path to success.
First, one should describe the Republican voting bloc. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 81% of their voters are white, 7% are Hispanic, 4% are black, and 7% identify as other. Compare that to the Democrats where 40% of their party is nonwhite, this becomes much more noticeable. Whites constitute 69% of America’s voters, which is a stark decrease from previous generations. Additionally, minorities vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats. UC Berkeley found in the 2020 election that 87% of blacks, 65% of Latinos, 61% of Asians, and 55% other nonwhites voted Democrat.
This becomes even more of a problem for Republicans when one notes the decreasing white population and growing minority population. The 2020 US Census found the white population decreased for the first time in history since 2010. This same census showed US population growth “has been driven exclusively by minorities.” Current projections have whites losing their majority status in 2045 given trends continue, which show no signs of stopping. Whites losing electoral power due to population loss alongside the concurrent increase in minority electoral power is incredibly detrimental to the Republicans.
For some context as to how this affected this election, 2022 midterm exit polls from the Washington Post show 58% of whites, who constituted 73% of all voters, voted Republican. 86% of blacks, 60% of Hispanics, and 58% of Asians voted Democrat.
Even if Republicans attempt to attract minorities, which will be essential if immigration does not change, they will need to address the disparity in the issues minorities support as opposed to whites. According to polls, certain demographics do not support basic Republican positions. For example, a CNN poll found 57% of whites support fewer gun control restrictions, while 55% of nonwhites support more gun control restrictions. Blacks and Hispanics, in particular, greatly support gun control measures, with less than a quarter of the former supporting gun rights over gun control.
Even on the issue of abortion, where there is a general consensus over access amongst races, whites support it the least. Hispanics are virtually the same as whites in this Pew Research poll, but Asians and blacks support abortion markedly more than whites and Hispanics.
While not mentioning race explicitly, Gallup performed a poll where they found 83% of Democrats, almost half of which are minorities, supported more government intervention. Only 22% of Republicans, which are almost all white, supported more government intervention. The natural Republican position is smaller government, so 56% of America supporting the opposite certainly hurts the GOP. While these are only a few examples, they portray the same trend.
Secondly, Pew found about half of both Democrat and Republican voters are 50 or older. However, the problem with this is the youth vote. In the 2022 midterm election, voters aged 18-29 broke for Democrats by 28 points. 55% of voters over 65 and 54% of voters aged 45-64 went for Republicans. Ages 30-44 was more down the middle, but the youth vote was striking. 63% voted for Democrat. Breaking down the voting demographic by age and race makes it even more lopsided towards the left.
Director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School John Della Volpe said, via Twitter, “If not for voters under 30 … tonight WOULD have been a Red Wave.”
Moreover, Gallup found more young Americans are identifying with the Democrats over Republicans, at a rate of 53% to 35%. This is evidenced by the fact the youth vote likely changed the course of the Pennsylvania senate election. 70% of the 18-29 age demographic voted for John Fetterman over Mehmet Oz. This exact same number was found for the re-elected Democrat governor of Wisconsin, as well.
Regarding social issues, younger voters are much more liberal. For instance, most in the Republican Party state there are only two genders, and that they are not malleable. This is further emphasized by the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh releasing the controversial film What is a Woman? where he makes the point liberals cannot define a woman. Regardless of one’s view on the movie or belief, this is a problem for two reasons: younger people are overwhelmingly in support of the LGBT community, and the LGBT community is extremely liberal, according to the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Since the LGBT community is also increasing, they will naturally oppose a more traditional and conservative view on gender. The more this community increases, the more liberalism grows. The more support that grows for this community also means people become more accepting of liberalism. Both are detrimental in the long term for the GOP.
Going back to the issue of abortion, the Republican Party is taking a hit as the pro-life party with younger voters, as Statista found 53% of people aged 18-29 support abortion under any circumstance. This demographic also opposes restrictions the most compared to other age groups.
The Intelligencer described a Pew Research Center poll in which it found a very common trend- the young are staying liberal. If the GOP cannot get younger voters, the Democrat Party will easily trounce them in future elections, as well.
Thirdly, there is a gender gap in voting. Both the Center for American Women and Politics and Pew Research Center found women vote more than men do on average, and this causes difficulties for the GOP. Men are generally split right down the middle when it comes to supporting the Republican Party, but women predominately vote Democrat. According to Pew specifically, 56% of women vote Democrat, as opposed to 38% who vote Republican. That is an almost 20-point differential in favor of the Democratic Party. Data from this same survey also found the gap is growing, as well.
Even when one takes into account for education, college-educated women were much more likely than college-educated men to support the Democrat Party at a rate of 65% to 48%. Similar numbers hold for those without college education, as well.
Moreover, race does not remove the gender gap, either. While black voters, in general, vote overwhelmingly blue, black women are aligned to the leftist party even more so than men. 87% of black women identify as Democrat as opposed to 77% of black men. This trend is the same for whites, Hispanics, Asians, and others.
Delving more in-depth on this issue, one finds the disparity even more revealing when taking into consideration the marital status of women. A midterm election exit poll that interviewed almost 20,000 people found that almost 70% of unmarried women voted Democrat. This is a 37-point difference, once more, in favor of the Democrat Party. In contrast to this, married men favored Republicans by 20 points, and single men voted Republican by a 7-point margin.
With census data stating marriage rates are plummeting in the US, women becoming more educated, gaining their own incomes, and becoming overall more independent, the GOP will suffer as a result. This is not because the Republican Party is inherently sexist or anything of the sort; however, ethnologically-speaking, the more rights and independence women gain in a society, the less likely they are to get married. And, as the data suggests, unmarried women reject the GOP at a staggering rate.
Fourthly, education is critical in voting behavior. For individuals without a college degree, the Republican Party holds a small, yet important, lead over Democrats at 47% and 45%. Though, once one attains a college degree, this shifts dramatically. Voters favor Democrats 57% to 37%. There is a plethora of explanations for this disparity.
Some claim being exposed to new experiences will make someone more liberal. Others claim learning more debunks conservative ideology. Contrarily, professors are virtually all liberal, and can thus influence their students directly or indirectly. There are so many interpretations, and it could be a mixture of many or solely one. The goal of this article is not to analyze why this trend occurs or posit one reason over another, but rather to point it out as a problem for the conservative party.
Finally, religion is one of the biggest problems for a party that espouses Christian values. 82% of Republicans are Christian. Unfortunately for them, America is becoming increasingly secular, and this poses a glaring issue. Etymologically, conservatism obviously means to conserve. Republicans are conservative because they tend to want to conserve traditional values, both cultural and economic. These values, specifically for Americans and especially for conservatives, derive from Christianity.
The terms “left” and “right” even directly refer to religion. During the French Revolution, members who wished to conserve the Catholic monarchy sat on the right side of the general assembly, while members who wished to depose the king sat on the left. While this by no means insinuates Republicans or conservatives want a monarchy or theocracy, it does help to illustrate the role and influence religion possesses on modern political verbiage and discourse.
However, the more people fall away from the faith, as is evidenced by secularists becoming the second largest group behind Christians, the more they likewise fall away from that central morality. Each ideology is founded upon a morality, whether that be Christianity or something else. Particularly for Western civilization, many of its laws and precepts are based upon Christian thought. Naturally, if someone does not believe in Christian morality, they will be less likely to vote for a party that places that as a top priority.
For instance, a CNN exit poll from this midterm election found people who go to church weekly or more vote Republican at a whopping 33-point margin. People who claim to “occasionally” go to church, vote Republican by a slim 5-point margin. However, people who never go to church vote Democrat 66% to 31%. There is a direct correlation between religiosity and political ideology. It is also important to note this does not mean every Democrat is atheist or every Republican is Christian. Rather, it is meant to signify a voting pattern.
So, the next logical step is to ask how, or if, the GOP can fix these problems. There is no easy solution, as many of these problems cannot be answered with a simple policy. This does not mean individuals have not proposed answers to these issues, though. While it would be beyond the purview of the article to detail each possible solution, a great many exist.
Regardless, for these solutions the Republican Party must balance capitulating its views in order to attract different groups, which would endanger their base, and defending their positions, which could turn away the politically homeless depending on the issue.
The future is a critical turning point for American politics. The Democrat Party is in an incredibly advantageous position, and the Republicans need to recuperate and strategize over its many woes. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, many of these problems are highly improbable to solve, and they will find that demographics may become their ultimate downfall. This is not the death knell of the GOP, but it is certainly a wake-up call that they need to adapt their game plan given the state of the US. If not, the Republican Party may soon discover that demographics could become their destiny.