The Demographic Revolution that Wasn't

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The Demographic Revolution that Wasn

At Trends, our focus on politics is only to the extent that it drives economic trends and is driven by trends in demography, technology and human behavior.  In the past few issues, we’ve discussed how the political inflection point of 2016 is profoundly redirecting our economic trajectory and finally moving us into the Deployment Phase of the Fifth Techno-Economic Revolution. 

However, if we hope to understand the economy, it’s also important to understand how demography and psychology have driven political outcomes and how those outcomes are now driving demography and psychology.

For much of this century, Democrats and Republicans alike have expected economic and demographic forces to converge, creating a permanent majority of voters who would tend to vote for Democrats in national elections and conceivably turn the United States into a de facto one-party political system.  Think California.

That expected “demographic revolution” depends upon the assumption that the Hispanic population would continue to swell as immigrants poured across the United States’ southern border.  These newly minted Americans would then vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates, creating landslide victories for Democrats at the state and federal levels of government.

The blueprint for this model was detailed in a 2002 book called The Emerging Democratic Majority, by John B. Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, and Ruy Teixeira, a fellow at the Century Foundation.1 

At the time it was published, George W. Bush was president, and the book immediately appealed to Democrats and alarmed Republicans because it predicted, as a Publishers Weekly review put it, “a new realignment of political power is inevitable… sweeping Democrats to power.  In support of their thesis, [Judis and Teixeira] argue that the electorate is becoming increasingly diverse, with growing Asian, Hispanic, and African-American populations—all groups that tend to vote Democratic.  On the other hand, the number of white Americans, the voting population most likely to favor Republicans, remains static…. They also argue that other changes, specifically the growing educated professional class and the continuing ‘gender gap,’ will benefit Democrats, whose political ideology is more consonant with the needs and beliefs of women and professionals.  Judis and Teixeira predicted that all these elements would converge by 2008, at the latest, when a new Democratic majority will emerge...

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