David Wasserman, like a good liberal, is very careful when talking about the Democrats’ chances in the 2016 election, Mapping the 2016 Electorate: Demographics Don’t Guarantee a Democratic White House. But the article is about how much more the electorate favors the Democrats in 2016 than it did in 2012. Jonathan Chait provided a better headline, How Much Will Demographics Help Hillary Clinton? He pointed out what ought to be obvious to all, “And, of course, nobody thinks demographics guarantee a Democratic White House.” But it does highlight the problem that the Republicans have. It’s like going into the last inning of a baseball game: being up one run up doesn’t mean you will win, but it’s better than being one run down.
Wasserman calculated that, all else being even, the changing demographics will give the Democrats a 1.5 percentage point boost. He provided the numbers for the 15 states where Romney and Obama were within 10 percentage points of each other. And it is striking. Florida, which Obama won by just 0.9 percentage points, has a demographic change of 1.6 percentage point shift, indicating a much more comfortable 2.5 percent point victory. North Carolina is even a more exciting shift. Obama lost by 2.0 percent points, but with the help of a 1.7 percentage point shift in that state, 2016 would see a Democratic defeat of just 0.3 percentage points — really down in the noise.
I still maintain that the political science fundamentals dictate that the trend of the economy is the single biggest issue. If the economy goes into recession at the beginning of next year, the Republicans are almost certain to win. As a result of this, I worry about the actions of the Federal Reserve. They keep putting off raising interest rates. While I believe that is the right thing to do, there is enormous pressure by the power elite for the Fed to raise rates. It just can’t be justified right now: the inflation rate this year have been zero, nada, nichts, nothing!
But will the Fed raise them next year, tanking the economy just in time to assure a Republican victory? This shouldn’t happen. If the Fed does its job properly, it should be able to cool the economy without throwing it into recession. But you have to wonder about the Fed raising rates in 2016 — which I am almost certain it will do. For four years, the inflation rate has been below the Fed’s 2% target — a target that I consider too low anyway. If the target is 2%, shouldn’t the Fed allow the rate to get a bit above that level for a while? We will see just how professional and courageous the Fed shows itself to be over the next year.
There is another side to this, however. I wonder if there isn’t a tipping point. The Republicans have put all their political eggs in one one basket. And as the country has changed demographically, the party has done nothing to reach out to the demographic groups that are growing. Are we reaching the point where a modest recession would still allow the Democrats to win the presidency? I don’t think we are there yet. But one thing is for certain: if the economy continues to improve, Hillary Clinton will beat any Republican who runs against her. And she will do it by a larger margin than Obama beat Romney.