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The Changing Demographics of Democratic and Republican Voters

There has been increased interest in the demographic make-up of the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2016 election; in part to identify what has become known as the "Trump Coalition" because it seems to reflect some changes in the historical party alignment.

In March, 2018 the Pew Research Center released a major study of the changing demographics of the Republican and Democratic Parties [including those that lean toward one party or the other]. What they found regarding party composition was not entirely surprising, but more profound than expected. They compared party composition change between 1997 and 2017. The key points are these:

1. While the average age of all voters is a bit older than 20 years ago, Republicans are now significantly older than Democrats; 57% of Republicans are 50 years or older compared to 46% of Democrats.

2. Like America generally, the Democratic Party has become substantially more racially diverse. 39% of Democrats are non-white, while just 14% of Republicans identify as black, Hispanic, Asian, or other non-white.

3. Maybe the most surprising change was in education. In the last 20 years the number of Republicans with a college degree remained flat at 28%, while Democrats with degrees jumped from 24% to 39%.

4. There has also been a substantial divergence based on religious affiliation. In 1997, just 9% of Democrats claimed no religious affiliation, but that increased dramatically to 33% in 2017. Republicans had a smaller increase from 5 to 13% claiming no religious affiliation. Its also interesting to note that white evangelicals continue to make up a third of Republicans while only 7% of Democrats identify as such.

So, what does all this mean? We will examine some of the consequences of these changes in future articles.

By: Don Lam & Curated Content


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