Thursday, January 12, 2017

Identity Group Demography Overrated in Politics

Richard Alba, a senior sociologist at CUNY, writes in The Washington Post that the Democrats are relying too much on demographic change in the U.S. population. It may prove less determinative than had been previously thought.
This hope of an inexorable Democratic tide based on demography could easily be wrong, for at least two reasons.

First, the forecast of a majority-minority society in the near future is more problematic than has been commonly assumed.

Second, the progressive hope relies on precarious assumptions about the future behavior of minority voters. In particular, recent patterns of assimilation, especially among U.S.-born Asians and Latinos, complicate the white/minority division of the population. These patterns also suggest that assimilating voters may behave politically more like whites than the conventional wisdom allows.

The census data that these forecasts are based on exaggerate the extent of white demographic decline; even the prediction of a majority-minority society is not guaranteed. The reason lies in the census misclassifications of a fast-growing group of young Americans from ethno-racially mixed backgrounds.

This is important, because most partly white individuals behave like whites in sociological terms. They grow up in neighborhoods with many whites, have white friends as adults, think of themselves mostly as white or partly white, and marry whites. We don’t know yet whether they vote like sociologically similar whites, but it is quite plausible that they will.
Do you believe the Democrats can shake their addiction to identity group politics? I'm doubtful, they do love it so.