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Are Democrats being too smug about their demographic advantages?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

John Judis has a lengthy analysis in Vox this morning dissecting the quiet sense of demographic inevitability that has come to define the long-term outlook of Democratic politics. 

Judis, ironically enough, was one of the original progenitors of the notion that “the groups in the population that are likely to vote for Democrats are growing, while those that are likely to vote for Republicans are shrinking as a percentage of the electorate.” Recently, however, he’s begun to question the assumptions that led him and the Center for American Progress’s Ruy Texeira to herald “The Emerging Democratic Majority” back in 2002. 

Democrats’ comparatively poor performance among college-educated Hispanics and the Republicans’ growing hold over seniors are among the trends Judis cites to explain his newfound skepticism of any inherent Democratic electoral advantage going forward. 

One thing he doesn’t mention, though, is the possibility that appeals to white nationalism deliver increasing, rather than diminishing, returns, in twenty-first century America.  

In their recent book, White Backlash, political scientists Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan L. Hajnal find that, even after controlling for a range of other factors, proximity to Latinos makes whites more likely to support conservative policies and identify with the Republican Party. “Just when the United States is becoming more racially diverse,” they write, “it is becoming more racially divided.” Judis’s article offers a number of good reasons to wonder if the Republicans haven’t picked the winning side of that chasm.