President Barack Obama's election victory exposed tectonic demographic shifts in American society that are reordering the U.S. political landscape.I've placed in bold a key point I raised as well, in my essay, "Democrat Partisan Relignment."
The 2012 presidential election likely will be remembered as marking the end of long-standing coalitions, as voters regroup in cultural, ethnic and economic patterns that challenge both parties—but especially Republicans.
Older voters and white working-class voters, once core elements of the Democratic Party, have drifted into the Republican column. Rural and small-town voters, whose grandparents backed the New Deal, now fill the swath of the U.S. that leans reliably GOP.
But in cities and dynamic suburbs, a rapidly growing force of Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and higher-income whites emerged this week as the strength of Mr. Obama's winning Democratic coalition.
"The Democrats now own a coalition of emerging metro areas where the whites and minorities live together, and where they vote Democratic," said Robert Lang, a demographer who directs the Brookings Mountain West, a research center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In northern Virginia's Fairfax County, for example, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly represents a district where 20 years ago, he said, 3% of residents were born outside the U.S. Now, it is nearly 30%, with the majority Asian immigrants.
Mr. Obama won big there Tuesday, helping him to tally the once reliably Republican state of Virginia for the second straight general election.
Similar shifts throughout the U.S. help explain how Mr. Obama was returned to the White House on support from young people, minorities, women and upscale whites, a coalition virtually identical to the one that carried him to victory four years ago.
Some political analysts thought that coalition came together only because of the historic nature of Mr. Obama's 2008 victory and wouldn't prove durable. That belief didn't hold up this week.
The question now is whether Mr. Obama and other members of his party can solidify this coalition into a foundation of the Democratic Party.
Republicans said their party won a smashing victory in congressional elections just two years ago, when they took control of the House of Representatives, illustrating that there is no clear claim for either party.
The 2010 election, they said, shows that even with modest inroads among Latino and Asian-American voters, the GOP can build a solid majority on the foundation of its strong white support. Republicans enjoy historically high levels of control over governorships and state legislatures, which they say shows the party's potential if it can improve its message to minorities.
In any case, both Democrats and Republicans see new contours of a split electorate.