I’ve been fascinated by demographics for years, first learning of their practical application during a foray into the world of arts marketing, learning how to sell theatre tickets by looking at people’s life stages, income, or background.
There are good, solid uses of demographics to forecast trends, and then there is the ridiculous. Often, the ridiculous uses have to do with politics.
Take a new study by the Center for American Progress called, New Progressive America, it’s a 51 page collection of data and hypothesis that claims twenty years of change have brought about a new progressive majority in America. Thomas B. Edsall over at Huffington Post says this study proves America is on the way to a permanent Democratic majority. I have my doubts.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was inundated with claims of a permanent Republican majority, radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt even wrote a 2006 book on the subject. What Hewwit, Edsall, and Karl Rove, mastermind of the permanent Republican majority seem to forget is that politics and circumstances change.
While demographic data can tell you much about the population, they can’t predict how they will react to an economic downturn, news of political misdeeds or the failure of policies.
The future success or failure of Democrats in America to hold onto power may be influenced by demographics but the biggest factor will be the real or perceived success or failure of President Barack Obama’s handling of the recession.