RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As political analysts and strategists unravel exit polling data after Tuesday’s presidential election, one trend is clear: demographic changes in the American electorate are significant and have altered the political landscape.
Political scientists at the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss those changes and their impacts. They are:
Ben BishinBen Bishin, associate professor of political science
Bishin is available to discuss the congressional races, the Senate in particular; the marriage amendments that passed; the presidential race; and the election of Florida’s first Cuban American Democrat to Congress (Joe Garcia defeated another Cuban American, conservative Republican David Rivera).
“The Senate result is particularly striking as Democrats managed to pick up two seats in a cycle that severely disadvantaged them,” Bishin says. “By expanding their margin to 55 seats they have virtually ensured Democratic control of the Senate for the remainder of Obama’s term, even despite the fact that the 2014 Senate elections look to strongly favor the GOP. This looks to give Obama a free hand for any Supreme Court appointments that come up.”
On state initiatives that would legalize same-sex marriage: “The victories in these states (Maine and Maryland) represent the first time that voters have approved marriage rights for gays and lesbians anywhere in this country. In all previous cases such rights were granted through the courts or state legislatures. In every other case in which the people have voted on gay rights, the anti-rights side has prevailed. Consequently, I think these elections reflect a watershed moment in the advancement in gay rights in the U.S. Minnesota also rejected an anti-gay marriage amendment. That said, these states are all fairly liberal so the magnitude of this policy is less expansive than it might seem on the surface. These results are important because the GOP has historically used referenda on gay rights to help energize their base and to mobilize voters to help them win other races. These results may portend the end of this strategy since the opposing side won, and it is not clear how well these issues motivated the Republican religious base.”
Shaun Bowler, professor of political science
Bowler is available to discuss initiative politics/direct democracy, money in politics, and minority politics and political behavior. In a book he co-authored in 2011 — “The Future is Ours: Minority Politics, Political Behavior, and the Multiracial Era of American Politics” — he predicted the trouble the GOP is in with regard to the changing demographics of the American electorate.
Today’s demographic reality is a “majority-minority” America wherein racial and ethnic minorities comprise a growing share of the U.S. population and electorate, Bowler says. “How America evolves as a society and a polity depends on whether and how these new Americans access and are accommodated by existing institutions,” he says. “Demography will be destiny. The balance between the two parties is at a tipping point and the outcome depends on how minority Americans engage in politics.”
Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate professor of political science
(818) 305-4865 (cell)
Ramakrishnan directed the 2012 National Asian American Survey, which in September found that Asian Americans likely to vote Nov. 6 strongly preferred Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. But nearly one-third were undecided and could play a crucial role in battleground states. Exit polls show that Asian American voters preferred the president by a 49-point margin, 74 percent to 25 percent. That is significantly higher than in 2008, when the margin was 27 points.
Ramakrishnan also is available to comment on the impact of Mitt Romney’s support for state immigration laws on his standing with Latino voters, who played a significant role in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. He says that the GOP needs to do a better job of reaching out to immigrants, and that the “shrill” voices of some politicians helped create the impression that the Republican Party does not welcome Hispanic immigrants.
Martin Johnson, associate professor of political science and department chair
Johnson can discuss local, state and national elections, as well as public opinion, polling and survey research, voter fatigue, and the news media’s role in shaping politics. He studies American political behavior, public opinion, polarized political communication, and relationships between the news media and government. Johnson’s research has investigated the role of public opinion in the policy process, how people learn about policy issues, and the impact of foreclosures on voting.