Rudy Teixiera's new paper on demographic change and American politics has been getting a lot of attention from bloggers and columnists. The basic thrust is that current demographic and social trends are all bad for Republicans and good for Democrats: the rising number of Hispanics and Asians (who voted overwhelmingly for Obama), the increasing number of secular people who list their religion as "unaffiliated" (a strong Democratic group), the increasing number of unmarried adults (75% of unmarried women voted for Obama), and the turn of young people toward the Democrats (66% of people under 30 voted for Obama, largely because of environmental concerns and social issues such as gay marriage).
So what we have here is another exercise in projecting current trends far into the future, which I regard as a dubious exercise at best. For one thing, another trend that Teixiera identifies is the weakening of party loyalty and the rise of independent voters. This suggests to me that today's young voters are more likely to change their voting preference as they age than, say, the famously loyal Democrats who came of age under Roosevelt. As a lot of people have pointed out, all these predictions about a "majority minority" nation are called into question by the rise in mixed marriages -- half of Asians marry non-Asians, and more than a quarter of Hispanics marry non-Hispanics, and nobody yet knows the political outlook of their children. It seems likely to me that in a generation many offspring of Hispanic and Asian immigrants will have lost their ethnic distinctiveness. After all, Irish-Americans used to be a reliable Democrat group, but I haven't seen anything about their voting preferences lately.
I see the Tea Party as a spasmodic response to changes that are threatening to older white Americans -- increasing ethnic diversity, acceptance of homosexuality, economic changes that render many old skills useless. So I do think that the particular issues that dominate the rhetoric of today's Republicans will become outdated in a generation or so. But conservatism is very common emotional outlook in every society, and it will remain so in America. Coupling this with the long-standing American tradition of conservative activism, our fondness for free markets and the rhetoric of standing on our own feet, and the enduring strength of religion in American society means that the Republican Party will come back in a new guise, and predictions of a future era of Democratic dominance will be disproved.