Friday, December 07, 2012

Demographics and their effects on U.S. elections

Jonathan Last has written a post about demographics at the Weekly Standard. Here are a few of the points that stood out to me.

From 2000 to 2010, while the total U.S. population grew by 9.7% to 308.7 million people, the U.S. population of people of "Hispanic origin" grew by 43%! To put it another way, from 2000 to 2010 America grew by 27.3 million people, and 15 million of those were Hispanics.

But the really significant demographic is the number of single people.

Today, the numbers are more striking: 23.8 percent of men, and 19 percent of women, between the ages of 35 and 44 have never been married. Tick back a cohort to the people between 20 and 34​—​the prime-childbearing years​—​and the numbers are even more startling: 67 percent of men and 57 percent of women in that group have never been married. When you total it all up, over half of the voting-age population in America​—​and 40 percent of the people who actually showed up to vote this time around​—​are single.

Singles broke decisively for Obama. Though his margins with them were lower than they were in 2008, he still won them handily: Obama was +16 among single men and +36 with single women. But the real news wasn’t how singles broke​—​it was that their share of the total vote increased by a whopping 6 percentage points. To put this in some perspective, the wave of Hispanic voters we’ve heard so much about increased its share of the total vote from 2008 to 2012 by a single point, roughly 1.27 million voters. Meanwhile, that 6 percentage point increase meant 7.6 million more single voters than in 2008. They provided Obama with a margin of 2.9 million votes, about two-thirds of his margin of victory. Back in 2010, Teixera noted that 47 percent of all women are now unmarried, up from 38 percent in 1970. “Their current size in the voter pool​—​more than a quarter of eligible voters​—​is nearly the size of white evangelical Protestants, who are perhaps the GOP’s largest base group,” he writes. “And since the current growth rate of the population of unmarried women is relatively high (double that of married women), the proportion of unmarried women in the voting pool should continue to increase.” In the medium run, he’s almost certainly correct.

Divorce rates have stabilized, but rates of cohabitation have continued to rise, leading many demographers to suspect that living together may be crowding out matrimony as a mode of family formation. Beginning in roughly 1970, the mastery of contraception decoupled sex from babymaking. And with that link broken, the connections between sex and marriage​—​and finally between marriage and childrearing​—​were severed, too.

Read much more here:

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