Tilting Demographics Shifting Political Landscape for 2016

Thursday, 01 May 2014 10:45 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Younger, more affluent, and more diverse voters are increasingly moving into older suburbs in metropolitan regions, shifting the political demographics in favor of the Democrats, according to analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

The trend will be an issue for the Republican Party as it devises its strategy for the 2016 presidential election, as formerly reliable GOP strongholds become diluted by an influx of Democratic-leaning voters.

"George W. Bush, the most recent GOP president, built his two election victories, in part, on broad suburban support. To win the White House in 2016, Republicans must retain their exurban and rural strongholds, while beating back the growing Democratic tide in the suburbs," the Journal's Elizabeth Williamson and Dante Chinni wrote.

From 2000 to 2012, the three mature-suburb counties around Atlanta all grew by double-digits, saw their incomes rise, and all cast a higher percentage of votes for President Barack Obama in 2012 than for 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore, according to the Journal.

A similar phenomenon took place in Columbus, Ohio. The population grew by 12 percent, median household income increased by roughly $8,000, and Democratic voting also surged with Obama taking 60 percent of the county vote in 2012 compared with 49 percent for Gore in 2000.

The analysis, based on information from the Brookings Institution, census data, and election figures, found similar patterns in Denver, as well as the northern part of Virginia, a battleground state.

On the flip side, changing suburbs won't help Democrats hold Senate seats in states where suburban voters are in short supply, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Montana, according to the Journal.

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