Changes in the Electorate Since We Elected Obama

direct voter contactThe Pew Research Center recently published another mountain of interesting demographics. In looking ahead to the general election, it’s helpful to review a few of the big changes since we first elected President Obama and how they might impact campaigning.

Makeup of the Electorate: 4% Fewer Anglos and 3% More Hispanics. Asian Americans are expected to climb slightly to about 4% of the electorate while African Americans will be about the same as in 2008 (12%). Interestingly, about 60% of the surge in Asian voter strength comes from naturalized citizens, as opposed to only about one in four for new Hispanic voters.

One challenge for progressives is turnout: In the last presidential election Hispanic and Asian voter turnout was only about 75% the rate of registered whites.  

Unmarried adults are at an historic high and two-parent families are down to fewer than seven in ten households with young children. The divorce rate continues a modest but steady rate of increase.  

A Christian Nation? Not So Much. In just eight years, we’ve seen almost an 8% drop in people who self identify as Christians. Only a quarter of that change comes from Muslims, Hindus and other world religions—the vast majority of the shift is people who were once Christians but now describe themselves as “unaffiliated.” This shift has come primarily from Catholics and mainline Protestants, and to a lesser extent, Evangelical Christians. 

The Middle Class is No Longer a Majority. For the first time in modern history, the “middle class” –a family of four earning between $42K and $126/yr—does not constitute a majority of households.

4% More of Adult Millennials are living with parents than when canvassers were first going door to door for Obama.  Experts say that with student loan debt, this trend will reverse slowly, even though the unemployment is down, full-time work is up and wages have modestly rebounded.

We offer these takeaways for political professionals considering direct voter contact this fall: 

  • Bilingual canvassing, mail and phone programs are more important than ever this fall.                      
  • With more nontraditional families and more families working multiple jobs, consider adding shifts for canvassing and phones in order to reach those who won’t be home during the traditional time slots.                                                                                                                        
  • Don’t forget junior in the basement. Look for a record number of three and four voter households that include millennials alongside their parents.

We encourage readers to visit the Pew Research site for more valuable insights into the changing American electorate. And as always, we encourage you to joing the conversation on social media with #chismstrat. 


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