The Democratic Party is in a formidable position politically speaking for the next few election cycles due to demographics and geography alone, but by increasing the number of states to include America’s current overseas territories they can solidify their dominance and make the GOP, if it maintains its current ideological intransigence, irrelevant for a generation.
As many have pointed out the 2012 Presidential Election saw the demographics of the United States brought to centre-stage in the post election analysis with the overarching theme being that unless the GOP do something to outreach to ethnic minorities, the young and female voters, they will become unelectable.
Following the adoption of the Southern Strategy by Richard Nixon, the Republican Party has had a sizeable lead among White voters, however in 2012, despite Romney extending the GOP’s lead over Obama in this demographic, the percentage of the population that fall into this demographic declined.
This demographic isolation is even more important to recognise as 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanic-Americans, 73% of Asian-Americans and 58% of self-identified ‘Others’ all voted for Obama, giving him 22.58% of the total vote therefore only requiring 38.10% of the White-Americans to win the popular vote with this percentage only decreasing as the US becomes less monoethnic.
With this trend expected to continue the Democratic Party needs to do very little as the GOP is proving itself to be its own worst enemy: opposing immigration reform, voter suppression laws that disproportionate affect minority communities and the recent comments of GOP Presidential hopeful Donald Trump branding Mexicans as “rapists” all push ethnic minorities toward the Democrats.
Culture warriors that obsess about implementing the Bible as legal statutes that suppress the LGBT community and women’s rights, and opposition to increased education funding alienate women and the young. To add insult to injury for the GOP as the demographics continue to change in favour of the Democrats formerly safe Republican states are beginning to become less reliable: in recent years Indiana voted for Obama in 2008, North Carolina has become a swing state, albeit a Republican-leaning one, and commentators are pointing out that Arizona and Georgia and now in play on the federal level.
On the issue of swing states the Republicans also have a huge problem with existing purple states as all swing states but North Carolina voted for Obama, with Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania going to Obama by more than four percentage points. If the 2016 Presidential Election shows that these states are now off the table and new formerly safe GOP heartlands are the new battlegrounds, the GOP cannot win the White House as the Democratic candidate would have over 270 electoral votes, even if the Republican was to win Virginia, Ohio and Florida.
The main crux of this piece is not to point out what many more knowledgeable people have already pointed out, but to suggest how the Republicans can become an irrelevance thus pushing the political consensus of the most powerful country in the world firmly to the left.
By bringing the United States’ territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Washington DC into the union as states, the Democrats will give themselves a sizeable majority in the Senate, a more favourable make-up of the House and the ability to lock-out the GOP from the White House.
If these territories were all to become states all would be given 2 senators and due to current voting patterns at least 8 of these would be Democrats with the other 4 being in competitive districts. Similarly all would have at least 3 electoral college votes with Puerto Rico having 7 and due to the 12 additional senators the electoral electoral college would be expanded to 550. The 19 additional electoral votes that would be needed for the new states, because DC already has electoral votes, would leave a deficit of 7 votes which would come from existing states.
The reason that this is bad for the Republican Party is that even if the two new swing states of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands always voted for the GOP the Democrats would begin every presidential election 13 electoral votes further forward. If the 2016 Presidential Election shows the above list of former swing states are now firmly Democratic, the Democratic candidate, with the additional 13-vote lead, would be all but guaranteed to win 285 electoral votes, 9 votes more than would be needed to win the White House; this is especially worrying for the GOP as Virginia, Ohio and Florida are by no means safe red states as recent electoral history will attest.
As well as a majority in the Senate and a Democrat guaranteed the White House, the new territories would also be allocated 10 members of the House. Due to the populations of the new states, Puerto Rico would have 5 Representatives and the remaining would have ‘At-Large’ Congresspeople as is currently in Alaska and Montana.
The unfortunate fact for the GOP is that unlike the Senate, the House’s number of representatives is numerically fixed by public law so any representatives for new states would have to come from the existing 435 representatives; due to ideological preferences and previous voting patterns, if the 10 representatives came equally from the Democrats and Republicans, the Democrats would have a net gain of 3 representatives making it, albeit slightly, harder for the GOP to get a majority in the House.
With the Democrats gaining in all three electoral contests, the DNC must make it party policy to see these territories brought into the union as states.
The political calculation that the DNC must make is straightforward as it would involve ending the current political situation which the United Nations has criticised as being a relic of US colonialism, whilst also making the voices of these US citizens, or nationals in the case of American Samoa, heard in the federal elections of the United States. All the Democrats would have to do is commit themselves to voting to admit these prospective states into the union if they had a referendum declaring that they wish to have statehood, as was the case in Puerto Rico in 2012.
The Republicans would then be in an impossible position; reject the idea of the self-determination of the territories’ residents thus alienating them from voting for the GOP if they eventually were admitted, or support the idea knowing full-well that it would give a short-term electoral advantage to the Democrats in the House, the Senate and the Presidential elections. The Democrats should bring this up in the political discourse in the very near future, and force the Republicans to make that impossible choice.