Diversity Wins: Demographic, Psychographic Shifts Decided Election

Youth and diversity trumped baby boomers and heterogeneous voting blocks.

By Luke Visconti

Obama Shakes Hands With Women in the Crowd

This time, it wasn’t about the excitement of “hope” and “change.” It was a campaign that seemed to me to be rather uninspiring and visionless, in the middle of a searing, aching, endless recession that is destroying more household wealth than anything in 80 years. And in who won lies a lesson for business.

This election was about diversity. As I watched John King go over the election map on CNN the night of the election, it was clear to me that there were key counties in key states that were going to determine the electoral college—and that diversity was determining the trends overall as well. Of the nine battleground states, the President Obama lost only North Carolina.

If you look at who voted for each candidate, the demographics shaped up as older and whiter versus younger and multiethnic. I think Neil King’s analysis in the above video is exactly right. One amazing number is that Asian voters went from 2 percent of the total votes four years ago to 3 percent on Tuesday—but almost 75 percent of Asians voted for the president. In the end, youth will win over age and our country will become more than 50 percent nonwhite by 2043. (This year was the first time there were more nonwhite births than white births.) What most people fail to comprehend is that the rising trend influences the declining demographic: As families become more diverse, as recognition and respect of LGBT relatives becomes a part of more family realities, as the less-diverse old realize they need to have the support of the more-diverse young to pay for their Medicare, the demographic shift becomes a seismic psychographic shift.

Going beyond just the presidential race, there were remarkable wins for women candidates and same-gender marriage initiatives, and stunning, complete losses for male candidates who decided their opinions on rape and pregnancy were important to discuss. This election is a clear mandate from the voters.

Here are major victories to note:

Women Candidates Elected at Historic Numbers

At least 19 women will occupy seats in Congress, increasing the total number of women by 12 percent (from 17 to 19). This marks a new high in United States history.

Women that won reelection were: Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.). Deb Fischer (Neb.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) will join the Senate. Additionally, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers, about half of all Senate races had at least one female candidate.

Openly Gay Candidates Gain Seats in Senate & House

It was a landmark election for LGBT candidates, as seven of the eight running for seats won. Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate; two openly gay Congressmen (Jared Polis of Colo. and David Cicilline of R.I.) won reelection; and as many as four other first-time candidates—including openly bisexual Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—could be sworn in come January.

Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Rights

Referendums showed that voters are ready for a change, as attitudes toward same-sex marriage begin to shift.


President Obama’s win means that the Affordable Care Act should stand.

‘Legitimate Rape,’ ‘God Intended Pregnancy,’ & Other Male Politician Gaffes

These male politicians decided to make rape and abortion “their” issues—and they suffered at the polls.

Lack of Diversity in Mainstream Press

72% of Newspaper Articles About The General Election Written by Men


For more on the election and a look back at the candidates’ campaigns, read DiversityInc’s coverage:

DOMA Rejected by Federal Court in N.Y.

President Obama Supports Marriage Equality

Ruling Against Defense of Marriage Act Is Major Diversity Victory

Diversity & Inclusion Includes Gays & Lesbians: Is Black Church Getting the Message?

Ask the White Guy: What Changed Obama’s Mind About Gay Rights?

Can You Prevent a ‘Todd Akin’ Moment at Your Organization?

‘God Intended’ Pregnancy After Rape, Says Romney’s Candidate


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  • Disagree with your first two points… the campaign wasn’t uninspiring or visionless at all (IMO)…it was about moving the country forward… period!

    • Luke Visconti

      I can’t think of a single thing that inspired me. I think the president ran a reasonably clever campaign, but there was no “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” or “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Rather, there was a lot of “The other guy’s numbers are wrong.” The last five years have been very, very demanding. As a business owner, I pay far more for healthcare, pay more in taxes, pay more in other fees. The government did not shrink, it did not become more resourceful—nothing.

      We’re in our third round of quantitative easing. What’s next? What’s the vision for the next four years? I haven’t got a clue. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • I straddle a very precarious fence, politically. I am a white gay man in a 10-year committed relationship, grew up in very conservative West Texas and am a military veteran. Where I get into trouble is when I identity myself as a Republican. I’ve been told time and again by my gay friends, as well as supportive straight friends, that “my party” rejects me and I should not, in all good conscience, be voting Republican (as if every single Democrat is pro-gay and Ted Kennedy would be my besty if he were alive). It is true that almost all Republicans are fighting marriage equality and most anything else that might be considered pro-gay, however I can’t “in all good conscience” vote Democrat because I can no longer stand the attitude of redistribution of wealth (which SCREAMS Communism) and amazingly liberal social programs that actually encourages recipients not to work. I am college-educated (Finance/Economics) and take an educated approach to our economic issues. I can not support the entitlement attitude that has prevailed and grown since Obama has been in office and I fear it will only get worse, further straining the country’s finances. I do pay my fair share in taxes and have grown weary of the implication that I don’t and need to pay more so others not working can be compensated for not doing so.

        On the positive side let me say this. I was in the military pre-DADT and my hat is definitely off to the President for pushing the repeal of DADT. The day it was repealed was more emotional for me that I could have ever anticipated and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. I am very excited for and actually a little jealous of all the men and women in our Armed Services who are now able to serve a little more openly, although I know we still have a ways to go. I am a little sad that I was not able to serve openly and do feel like there were possibilities for my life that were not able to be explored because of it. As a matter of fact, I’m quite sure that my life would have turned out considerably different had I been able to. I am also impressed with our President’s decision to openly support gay marriage which was probably risky for even a Democrat.

        With these positives, though, I must say that I am so supportive of the general Republican philosophy for economics that I am willing to push to the back burner the issues impacting my peer group and unselfishly support someone who does not agree with my personal life-style for the good of the country. Am I in support of gay marriage? Of course I am! Am I proud of the repeal of DADT? Of course I am! Do I think a Republican would have pushed its repeal? Hell, no, however I DO THINK GETTING THE COUNTRY BACK ON ITS FEET IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT ONE OR TWO OF MY PERSONAL LIEFSTYLE ISSUES. I bet there aren’t many Democrats and milkers of our entitlement system who can say that.

        • Luke Visconti

          As an entrepreneur, I understand your conflict over economic issues—I’m flabbergasted at the complete lack of direction coming from the White House—and the stock market apparently shares my deep concern over the lack of leadership on economic issues. I’d also say that I’d give credit to Admiral Mullen for ending DADT, and Vice President Biden for support of same-gender marriage. The president was backed into both of those positions.

          That said, I don’t understand how you could support any aspect of a political party that totally rejects your having the same rights as heterosexual Americans. And it’s not just rejection of your rights—they demonize LGBT people—regardless of the numbers of them who end up playing footsie in the men’s room, hire a “rent a boy” for vacations or who are married to people who build businesses on “praying the gay away” nonsense (BTW, is it just me, or does your gaydar alarm go off every time you see that guy?). Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • I agree Denyse. We just need to stop focusing on the hype that causes us to lose hope, and start focusing on the power that we very obviously have!

  • Great overview. I particularly agree that the president (and his team) won this election taking a more analytical approach (versus a hope-inspired approach). This sentence: “with President Obama trailing in the popular vote, it was clear to me that there were key counties in key states that were going to determine the electoral college—and that diversity was determining the trends overall as well” was most telling. Obama’s team better understood the power of understanding the changing demographics of this country. Now his task is to understand how to connect with and motivate congress.

  • Steve Rosenberger

    Hey! My partner and I are baby boomers (’61 & ’62)… but please don’t lump us together with our stodgy brethren! We celebrate the beginning of the end of the old, white, straight, christian, male dominance of this country’s social and political institutions. When those dinosaurs die off, they will produce something even more valuable than oil – a clearer path to a more just society. In the meantime, 11/7/2012 is a VERY happy day!

    • Luke Visconti

      I’m a few years older than you, my unstodgy brother, making me a full decade older than the average American. I completely agree with you about what’s coming being far more valuable than dead dinosaur juice. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • Some thoughts on the re-election of President Obama:

    1. The Democrats finally figured out that they have to be just as relentless in pursuing political gains as their Republican counterparts.

    2. All those voter registration drives by the NACLA and the NAACP paid off! And these “drives” should be a CONTINUAL, year-round effort by these two groups….as well as other ethnic minority groups. Every vote DOES count, and no voter is “expendable.”

    3. Maybe our next president will be Latina/o, Asian or Native American–and/or female–and any combination of the above plus whatever else they are ethnographically!

    4. We can have more money for the United States if our government could give up warmongering for a few years. We can have strong defense without paying out $126 million/billion per month to wage war on other countries.

    5. We need our own tech “revolution” with American entrepreneurs going back to what we USED to do: manufacturing all those high-tech communications devices HERE and hiring engineers HERE to create high tech companies!

    6. Oh yes–maybe we can start focusing on improving education from pre-school to post-doctorate! That will help us out….

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