Out of all the data in the exit polls
, nothing should scare Republicans more than the chart above. President Barack Obama won the 18-29-year-old vote 60-37. He lost the 65 and older vote 56-44. Guess who will be around longer?
And for Republicans hoping that young voters would stay home, the opposite happened—in 2008, the 18-29-year-old vote was 18 percent of the total. It was 19 percent this year.
Political science dogma states that partisan preferences get baked in after voting in two elections. I'm not sure I've ever seen a study proving that, but Republicans better hope that conventional wisdom is wrong, because after 2008 and 2012, millennial voters are giving Democrats massive advantages, and they'll need that to change to stay competitive over the long haul.
But this will be particularly hard for the GOP because the youth vote overlaps with another problem demographic for Republicans—non-Anglo voters. Latinos, in particular, are significantly younger
than the overal population, but African Americans and Asians are also growing at higher rates than the white vote.
Latinos grew by 15 million between 2000 and 2010, while African Americans and Asians both grew by 4 million. Meanwhile, the white vote grew by a stunningly small 2 million. Asians voted for Obama by a 73-26 margin. Latinos did so by a 71-27 margin. And African Americans did so by a 93-6 margin. Democrats may have only won 39 percent of the White vote, but that's all we need these days.
Smart Republicans will spend the next two years talking about how they need to better appeal to non-white Americans. Problem is, they're a tiny minority in their party. Can they embrace comprehensive immigration reform in the face of their xenophobic wing? Can they suppress their base's racist instincts in order to present a more tolerant facade to millennials? Can they cast aside their anti-gay bigotry and push for equality?
The obvious answer is no. Heck, most of the GOP base don't even consider non-Whites to be "real" Americans! But the winner of that intra-party civil war will determine whether Republicans can remain a viable national party in the cycles to come.