It might not have been the deciding factor in the presidential election, but the youth vote came through for Barack Obama.
Edison Media Research’s exit polls show that Obama won the youth vote by 24 points. That’s not as high as the 34-point margin by which Obama captured the youth vote in 2008, but his opponent, John McCain, was considerably older than his 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney.
I’m not implying that age is the only factor young voters care about, but neither McCain nor Romney presented a frame of reference that resonated with the majority of young voters.
Fifty-five percent of women, 71 percent of Hispanics, 60 percent of low-income voters, and, if party loyalty means anything, 92 percent of Democrats voted for Obama.
Not surprisingly, Romney’s voters tended to skew whiter, older and more conservative.
The most surprising thing about the demographic breakdowns is Romney’s Mormon faith did not put a damper on support from white evangelicals and people who self-identify as born-again Christians.
Gains by both parties in House and Senate races are not overwhelming enough to break Congressional gridlock in either ideological direction.
What all this augurs for future national elections will be astounding and confounding as we go forward. Statistically, the nation is growing older, but it also is growing darker. The Census Bureau predicts that, by 2040, if not sooner, minorities collectively will constitute the majority in the United States.
And that scares the hell out of some white folks.
We white folks don’t know what it’s like to be in the minority. We haven’t been in that category since Native Americans throughout the North American continent outnumbered the Europeans who came here.
How many more generations will fail to realize that, barring some cataclysmic event, white, male cultural hegemony is becoming a thing of the past?
With this realization comes an intriguing question. When minorities become the collective majority, will they unify as a cohesive identity-politics bloc? Will each ethnicity go its own way and focus on a one-race agenda? Or will individuality rule the day with people refusing to be trapped into a stereotypical monolith?
And how will each major party change its approach, if at all, to appeal to the new minority majority? African-Americans and Latinos feel, in large measure, they’ve been taken for granted by the Democrats. Will they rise up and demand more?
Will the Republicans finally stumble onto a way to attract more young people, women and minorities? And how many big-bucks donors will they have to alienate to do so? Even if the party alters its ideology, does it have enough strong leaders to whip the rank-and-file into following that ideology?
Tune in tomorrow and every day for the rest of the 21st century to the continuing saga of “One State, Two States, Red States, Blue States” (with apologies to the estate of Dr. Seuss).