The Republican Party has a major demographic problem over the long term, according to a Politico magazine story published on Sunday.
“The party’s core is dying off by the day,” concludes writer Dan McGraw.
Democrats, especially under President Barack Obama, have long been associated with younger voters and millennials. Much less attention has been paid, McGraw argues, to the other side of the equation: older voters.
Though they are some of the most reliable voters when it comes to turnout, seniors are also more likely to exit the voter pool naturally, through death.
McGraw’s “back-of-the-napkin” numbers paint a particularly stark picture for the GOP:
By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too — about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favour of the Democrats.
Here is the methodology, using one age group as an example: According to exit polls, 5,488,091 voters aged 60 to 64 years old supported Romney in 2012. The mortality rate for that age group is 1,047.3 deaths per 100,000, which means that 57,475 of those voters died by the end of 2013. Multiply that number by four, and you get 229,900 Romney voters aged 60-to-64 who will be deceased by Election Day 2016.
However, there are a number of caveats that could lessen the impact of the dilemma for the Republican Party. For one, McGraw’s numbers are mere estimates. Additionally, Republicans undoubtedly hope to make inroads with younger voters, who don’t necessarily vote as often and can be concentrated in states like California and New York that aren’t competitive on the national level.
“Regardless, political demographers are seeing this election as a watershed. Millennials now have higher numbers than Baby Boomers, and the mortality rates will expand that difference in coming elections,” McGraw added. “With each death, a little political power passes from one generation to the next.”
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