WASHINGTON (AP) â€” It's not just the economy, stupid. It's the demographics â€” the changing face of America.
The 2012 elections drove home trends that have been embedded in the fine print of birth and death rates, immigration statistics and census charts for years.
America is rapidly getting more diverse, and, more gradually, so is its electorate.
Nonwhites made up 28 percent of the electorate this year, compared with 20 percent in 2000. Much of that growth is coming from Hispanics.
The trend has worked to the advantage of President Barack Obama two elections in a row now and is not lost on Republicans poring over the details of Tuesday's results.
Obama captured a commanding 80 percent of the growing ranks of nonwhite voters in 2012, just as he did in 2008.
Republican Mitt Romney couldn't win even though he dominated among white men and outperformed 2008 nominee John McCain with that group. It's an ever-shrinking slice of the electorate and of America writ large.
White men made up 34 percent of the electorate this year, down from 46 percent in 1972.
Another trend that will be shaping the future electorate is the stronger influence of single women. They vote differently from men and from women who are married. Fifty-four percent of single women call themselves Democrats; 36 percent of married women do.
With women marrying later and divorcing more, single women made up 23 percent of voters in the 2012 election, compared with 19 percent in 2000.
The changing electorate has huge implications for public policy and politics.
Suddenly, immigration overhaul seems a lot more important, for one thing.
Ask white voters about the proper role of government, for another, and 60 percent think it should do less. Ask Hispanics the same question, and 58 percent think the government should do more, as do 73 percent of blacks, exit polls show.
You can hear it in the voice of Alicia Perez, a 31-year-old immigration attorney who voted last week at a preschool in Ysleta, Texas.
In her words, "I trust the government to take care of us. I don't trust the Republican Party to take care of people."
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