As the demographics of America continue changing, so does the face of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Republicans are continuing on with an age-old trend: white males. And on the rise to support Republicans? Young white males.
Republicans and Democrats have never been more different in recent history. According to Pew Research Center, “the composition of the Republican and Democratic electorates are less alike than at any point in the past quarter-century.”
With Democrats boasting diversity at a faster pace, particularly among millennials, Republicans should be concerned, as millennials and members of generation x outvoted older generations in 2016.
Republican supporters are more racially diverse than in previous years but have not seen the same growth as Democrats. In 1997, 92 percent of GOP voters/leaners were white — today, they are 83 percent white. For Democrats, three-quarters were white in 1997. Today, only 59 percent are white.
More diverse populations are leaning toward the Democratic Party. Black voters have historically supported the Democrat Party and still do today (84 percent, compared to 8 percent for Republicans). But Democratic support among women is on the rise at 56 percent, versus 37 percent who identify as/lean toward Republicans. Female Democratic supporters are at one of the highest points since 1992.
The gender gap is becoming more pronounced, too. Overall, 56 percent of women identify as or lean toward the Democratic Party, versus 44 percent of men. And this is evident across several races: “For instance, there is a 9-percentage-point gender gap among white voters: While 48% of white women affiliate with or lean toward the Democratic Party, 37% of white men do so. Similarly, there is an 8-point gender gap among black voters (87% of black women vs. 79% of black men), as well as among Hispanic voters (66% of women vs. 58% of men).”
So where will Republicans find their continuing support base? While millennial men.
Millennials are considered a largely liberal/Democratic group. And when looking at the generation as a whole, this is generally true. Fifty-nine percent of millennials identify as/lean toward Democrats, compared to 32 percent for Republicans. This is a shift from just 2014, at which time support for Democrats and Republicans among millennials as 53 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
But the breakdown by gender and race shows that GOP support among young white men is on the rise. About 15 years ago, 39 percent of young white males identified as Republicans or leaned toward the GOP — today that number is 41 percent. During the same time period, the percent of Democratic supporters/leaners has gone down 3 percentage points from 52 to 49. The only other generational group that has seen an increase in GOP support is the silent generation (both men and women among this cohort have demonstrated increased Republican support). Pew defines millennials as anyone born between 1981-96, and members of the silent generation are those born between 1928-45.
Educational differences also show a stark divide. Since 1997, the number of voters with advanced education overall has increased. And it appears the majority of these voters are leaning Democratic.
In 1997, 28 percent of Republicans/Republican leaners were college graduates. This percentage fluctuated but in 2017 was back at 28 percent. In 1997, 40 percent of Republican supporters had a high school diploma or less; this only went down to 37 percent in 2017.
Democrats have seen sharp changes in educational attainment. In 1997, 49 percent of Democrats had a high school education or less. This shot down to 30 percent in 2017. About a quarter of Democrats had their college degree in 1997, and today, nearly 40 percent of Democrats have an advanced degree.
When broken down by race, non-college educated white voters used to make up more than half of Democratic supporters. Today, they only constitute 33 percent of Democrats. Non-white, college-educated Democratic supporters went up from 5 percent in 1997 to 12 percent in 2017.
Percentages for Republicans have not seen as much shift. In 1997, 66 percent were whites without any college education; today, that number is at 59 percent. The percent of ethnic minorities who completed college and identify as Republicans budged just 1 percentage point since 1997 — going from 2 percent to 3 percent.
Perhaps most telling of all is a look at the data overall, which suggests perhaps Americans are tired of both parties. Among registered voters, 37 percent are independents, 33 percent are Democrats and 26 percent are Republicans, according to Pew.
Special elections across the country have shown Democrats coming out in shocking support of their party’s candidates. Conor Lamb, a moderate Democrat, took home a victory in a Pennsylvania special election for the House of Representatives. Lamb defeated his GOP rival in a district Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points during the election. Democrats saw similar victories in Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. In Kentucky, a Democrat beat a Republican in a district where Trump held nearly three-quarters of voters’ support, Reuters reported. Similarly, in Missouri, “Democrat Mike Revis defeated Republican David Linton by 3 points for the District 97 state representative seat in the Missouri House, a district Trump won by 28 points,” Reuters reported.
In Alabama, Black voters (particularly Black women) showed incredible support for Democrat Doug Jones in the race for Senate against accused sexual predator Roy Moore. Ninety-eight percent of Black women who voted did so in Jones’ favor.