(The Root) — According to demographers, more white Americans died last year than were born — the first time this has occurred in the history of the nation. Even more surprising, the shrinking of the white population has begun more rapidly than previously predicted.
The decline of America’s white population is being fueled by a variety of factors, among them that white women are having fewer children, and at later ages than other racial groups, and the immigrant population is increasing. But perhaps even more interesting than the numbers themselves is the impact they are likely to have on American society.
One of the most significant ways will be on politics. The 2012 presidential election gave a glimpse into how the American electorate is changing. Gov. Mitt Romney’s supporters skewed older and whiter, while President Obama won handily among Asian and Latino voters and nearly swept African-American voters. Political analyst Charlie Cook broke down the numbers as follows:
The white share of the vote in presidential elections has dropped 15 points over the past six elections, from 87 percent in 1992 to 72 percent in 2012. This trend has little to do with Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president. The declines from one presidential election to the next have been consistent: a 4-point drop from 1992 to 1996, 2 more points in 2000, 4 additional points in 2004, 3 points in 2008, and 2 points last year.
Cook further notes this:
According to a Nov. 14 report by the Pew Research Hispanic Center, 40 percent of the population growth of citizens of voting age between now and 2030 will be Hispanic, 21 percent will be black, and 15 percent will be Asian-American. Only 23 percent of that growth will be white.
This means that unless the Grand Old Party stages one of the greatest turnarounds in political history, America will become an increasingly blue country. Although there was a time when it seemed as if America would simply become more politically segregated (states like New York would become bluer while states like Utah simply became redder, with a dwindling number of purple states deciding the presidential elections), even primarily white states are feeling the impact of our nation’s demographic changes. As previously covered on The Root, Utah is experiencing some of the fastest growth among multiracial people of any state in the Union.
Shifting racial demographics, particularly in the South and the Midwest, have shaped some key races. President Obama became the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to carry North Carolina, while Hispanic voters are credited with saving Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a tough re-election battle in Nevada in 2010.
Since no one expects Republicans to simply give up, the question becomes how the party will attempt to rebuild and rebrand. Its most obvious pathway is through policy, as evidenced through the immigration-reform efforts being championed by various Republican leaders. But the strategy the party is more likely to follow in the immediate future is one it has relied on for years: cultivating a diverse roster of candidates.