Urban Electorate: The GOP’s “other” Demographic Disaster

It’s been rare of late, but for once I have to congratulate US Congressman (and FORMER GOP nominee for Vice-President) Paul Ryan for some recent comments about the election. While everyone in the media has been obsessing over the coveted Hispanic vote and the emerging US minority coalition, few have come to realize the one group that drove Obama straight back into the White House. Remember, the Hispanic share of voters, while growing, was still only 10 percent of the electorate.

But the people that showed up for Obama with overwhelming decisiveness? Urban voters. As Mr. Ryan said, Republicans are losing America’s major cities. And it’s not even close… they’re losing urban areas by a long shot. Now granted, Paul Ryan is admittedly biased against cities, claiming that all urbanites are impoverished, violent and lack discipline. So clearly if this baseline assumption is held by others in the GOP, it’s no secret why they’re not reaching urban voters. And of course their assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

Much to Republican dismay, American cities are back on the rebound. Our latest Census data shows that Americans are now moving to inner cities more than at any point in the last century. This demographic shift is causing America’s main urban areas to see impressive growth, while rural areas continue to decline. Yes, the majority of that growth is still in the suburbs, but cities proper are also beginning a renaissance.

And here’s the bad news for the GOP… Republicans are no longer competitive in most major cities. If you take the 25 most populous counties in the US, Mitt Romney won just four of them… Maricopa County (Phoenix) AZ, Orange County CA, Riverside County CA and Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) TX. Only two of the counties house what could be considered “traditional” major cities, and the other two are predominantly suburban and exurban areas. Even if you take the 50 most populous counties, that only adds Fresno County, CA and Salt Lake County, UT. So just six of the nation’s 50 largest counties voted GOP in 2012.

Many will be critical of this assumption saying that several counties were competitive for Republicans… most certainly the nation’s second largest of Harris County (Houston) TX, and Hamilton County (Cincinnati) OH. And they would be right, as these areas were won by President Obama in the narrowest of margins. Only 585 votes in Harris County put Obama in the win column. But the trend was upheld in both areas. Though nine million fewer people voted in 2012 than in 2008, urban centers still turned out to support Democrats. But amongst nine million total fewer voters, the split between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama wasn’t even close. Romney received 1.2 million fewer votes than John McCain, but Obama got over seven million fewer votes… and still won! Think about that for a second. The President was at a seven million vote defecit, and still grabbed both popular and electoral majorities.

All you heard from national media was about the “enthusiasm gap”… Republicans were FIRED UP to vote for Romney, while Democrats were non-plussed for Obama. If they were truly chomping at the bit to vote, wouldn’t there have been a “red wave” like in 2010 to sweep Mitt Romney into the Presidency? A loss of seven million would indicate that the enthusiasm argument was true for Democrats.

So the question remains… if the GOP is a nationally competitive party, where are all of its voters? What’s the likelihood that most of those 9 million people that “sat out” in 2012 were Republican or right-leaning independents? Did they live in Amreica’s small towns? These are the critical questions that Republicans and Right-Wing media forgot to ask themselves. But for those on the Left, we heard the answers to these questions loud and clear. And we liked it. Rain or shine, welcome to the new “left of center” urban America.