WHITE PEOPLE ARE IN DECLINE
Take a look at the 2020 exit polls:
Now take a look at fresh new census data:
The demographic decline is particularly painful for Republicans because the white population isn’t just falling overall, but the phenomenon is particularly acute among non-Hispanic whites. As the Census states, “the White alone population decreased by 8.6% since 2010.” And conservatives are helping COVID whittle that down even more.
Put another way—the white population is averaging a decline of about 1 percent per year. And that’s the only group it can rely on for votes come election season.
RURAL REGIONS ARE IN DECLINE
Per the same census:
In short, most counties are full of empty. Maybe cows, maybe not even that. Those counties, unless they are populated by non-whites—such as rural southwest Georgia or Indian country in places like the Dakotas, Arizona, and Montana—are heavily Republican. It’s why Republicans love those county results maps, with their wide swaths of red surrounding tiny blue dots. Problem for them is that those tiny blue dots, metro regions, are where most people live. And the even bigger problem is that those emptying rural red counties are the final GOP stronghold. Donald Trump won the rural vote 57-42 in 2020, while losing urban America 60-38 and suburbia 50-48.
Western rural areas are holding up pretty well, but rural regions in the middle and eastern parts of the country are being decimated. And the overall trend is bleak. Meanwhile, Democratic cities and increasingly Democratic suburbs are driving population growth (which makes sense, since we know the white population is declining, while the Latino and Asian populations are growing rapidly).
GUN OWNERSHIP IS IN DECLINE
According to Pew Research in 2017, “Republican and Republican-leaning independents [are] more than twice as likely as Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say they own a gun (44% vs. 20%).” The politics of gun culture as self-evident. Conservatives can’t imagine life without them, while liberals are sick of the lives lost because of them. Furthermore, Pew found that—surprise surprise!—gun ownership was “most common among men, whites.” There is a clear overlap between gun ownership and partisanship.
While the number of gun purchases has been supercharged the past decade, and even this last year, those sales are driven by people purchasing multiple death sticks. Q and the military crowd have convinced this crowd that owning a small arsenal can protect them from “tyranny” or whatever other b.s. they’re told. (As if they wouldn’t be squashed in their fantasy uprising by far-better armed government forces.)
In total, the overall number of gun owners has declined from 51% of the population in 1978, to 32% today according to Gallup. Given the link between gun ownership and rural Americans, it should come as no surprise.
Related, the NRA is bleeding membership, as Mother Jones reported: “Adding to the NRA’s troubles, it appears that it is losing members. While the group has claimed to have somewhere between 5 and 6 million members for several years, the latest data from an unusual source—its magazine circulation reports—suggests the actual numbers may be much lower and have been going down.”
CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS IN DECLINE
For the first time since Gallup starting tracking, less than half of Americans now belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque.
Protestants voted for Trump at a 60-39 clip, while Joe Biden narrowly won Catholics 52-47. But among “other” religions, the number was 69-29 Biden, and among no-affiliation, it was 65-31. So it’s of particular interest to see Gallup report that “[a]mong religious groups, the decline in membership is steeper among Catholics (down 18 points, from 76% to 58%) than Protestants (down nine points, from 73% to 64%).” An exodus of liberals explains a big part of that decline, repulsed by the increased radicalization of the Southern Baptist and American Catholic Churches. But even among conservatives, church attendance dropped from 77% to 65% between 2000 and 2020—a 12-point decline.
This decline has become an existential one for Southern Baptists, and has spurred what is looking more and more like civil war. “[The Southern Baptist Convention] has lost 2 million members since 2006, and 2020 saw the lowest number of baptisms since the Spanish influenza pandemic after World War I. This, he argues, is directly related to the organization’s political conservatism — including its struggles with race and sexual abuse,” reported Vox. “’[Youth] are going to go to church if their parents force them to, but the battle has been lost on the intellectual front, and on the emotional front,’ [theologian and scholar Greg] Thornbury tells me. ‘I suspect that the decline will be precipitous.’”
OLDER AMERICANS ARE IN DECLINE
Biden won both the 18-29 and 30-44 age groups per the exit polls in 2020. Trump won the two age groups above that.
There’s no need to cite stats explaining the circle of life, or noting that in raw numbers, more white Americans die each year than any other racial group. It’s obvious, since they are the largest single group, by far. Given the new Census data showing an actual decline in the number of single-race whites, it’s clear that they’re not able to keep pace with those deaths (unlike Latinos and Asians, both groups supercharged by immigration growth and a dramatically younger average rate. Seniors can’t have more babies).
Both demographically, and culturally, conservatism is in decline. And those trends—driven in large part by seismic demographic change—aren’t abating anytime soon. That’s why Republicans aren’t bothering trying to win over Black, Brown, women, or young voters. Theirs is a culture under deep assault, withering away like one of those Depression-era Dust Bowl photos. Rural towns are hollowing out, their youth departed to more exciting and fruitful locales while the old-timers pass on to the great beyond. So those still hanging around double down on what’s left: their guns, their Bibles, their hatred of the people driving those changes. And in the halls of power, they try to codify their power by shredding the very democratic ideals embodied in those American flags they so hypocritically fly.
But it’s all a delaying action. Whites are no longer a majority of Georgia’s population. Arizona is going to be increasingly harder for Republicans to contest. It should look like Virginia in a decade. Texas is on its way. South Carolina and Mississippi are further back but on the right track. America is changing, and we’re going to see in greater detail exactly how in the coming weeks as smart people pore over the fresh new Census numbers. But we can already see that the long-term trends are in our favor, and as a result, we must brace for increasingly desperate attacks on our democracy from a white-dominant party that refuses to surrender control.