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Expect More Leftist Attacks on the Electoral College

Red and blue map of America

Before 2016, Democrats convinced themselves that a "blue wave" was crashing over America. Immigrants, minorities, and women would give them a lock on the presidency. Identity politics would sway the popular vote and the Electoral College would go along with it, ushering in a new era of "progress" that none of those stodgy old conservatives could defeat.

After the rude awakening of November 8, 2016, the experts pushing this "Blue Wave" narrative have a new election orthodoxy. Researchers with the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the Center for American Progress (CAP), the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the Brookings Institution analyzed long-term demographic trends and came to the conclusion that the only hope for Republicans to keep or regain the presidency is the Electoral College.

"The scenarios in this report suggest that there are paths for both parties to win the Electoral College in 2020 and beyond," the researchers noted. Republicans can win by expanding their lead among whites without a college education, and Democrats will likely find success in pushing up minority turnout and in tearing these white votes without a college education away from the GOP.

"While Democrats appear to have the advantage in future popular vote contests, their success in the Electoral College will likely require some combination of intensifying their support among voters of color and improving their margins among white, particularly white non-college-educated, voters," the researchers wrote. "This delicate balancing act will provide a challenge for the party that cannot be met by simply waiting for demographic change to reshape the electorate."

The demographic "blue wave" is far from inevitable, at least through 2036, the study found.

Even so, Republicans do have a hard fight ahead. "Among the simulations examined, the greatest opportunity for Republicans to extend their 2016 victory model assumes an expansion of the already-substantial voting margin that the GOP has gained among white non-college-educated voters," the authors noted. "When this margin is expanded by 10 points, Republicans win both the 2020 Electoral College and popular vote."

Even under these favorable conditions, however, the GOP can "continue to win the Electoral College — though not the popular vote — through 2036, despite broadening diversity and other predicted changes across the country."

The authors released these conclusions in the fourth annual "States of Change" report, published this past weekend. PRRI's Robert Griffin, CAP's Ruy Teixeira, and Brookings's William H. Frey ran a series of simulations for presidential elections between 2020 and 2036.

Griffin, Teixeira, and Frey predicted that Republicans would win the Electoral College but not the popular vote in presidential races going forward. "This report finds quite a few future scenarios could mimic the result of the 2016 election — a Democratic in the popular vote with a Republican win in the electoral college," they wrote.