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Use of Demographic Analysis in Political Planning

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  • 0:00 Demographics for Politicians
  • 0:36 Race and Ethnicity
  • 1:13 Gender
  • 2:04 Age
  • 2:51 Income
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Despite the fact that all individuals are truly unique in their voting preferences, political operatives have noticed that there is still quite a bit that politicians can glean from performing demographic analysis.

Demographics for Politicians

Politicians are concerned with any number of things. From shaking hands and kissing babies to making sure that their hair and their message are always just perfect, politicians rarely get the time to really get to know their constituencies as well as they wished. Instead, often, politicians have to rely on data, especially demographics, to help them make informed decisions about how to proceed in their votes. Supported by constant polling, the demographics of a region can help a politician figure out how to best use their resources in order to best represent an area, as well as to best make use of campaign resources.

Race and Ethnicity

In the United States, race and ethnicity are powerful indicators as to how a particular area could swing during an election. As a general rule, but by no means concrete, areas with more minorities tend to vote more liberally than areas made up of whites. This is pretty powerful information to a politician and allows for them to align their message accordingly. It also helps a politician figure out how to best represent their constituents. A congressman from a district full of Hispanics would be less likely to introduce laws likely to target undocumented workers than one from a white-majority district.

Gender

Additionally, gender is another indicator of how a given population tends to feel with respect to their political beliefs. While not as consistent as race or ethnicity, women tend to have more liberal positions than men. Again, this is by no means concrete. Since most districts tend to be pretty evenly split between men and women, there isn't as much of an opportunity for politicians to capitalize on those differences during a campaign.

However, issues perceived as belonging mainly to women are still important for politicians in those districts where women tend to vote in higher numbers than their male counterparts. That said, politicians wishing to capitalize on those numbers must be aware of polling data in their particular district. For example, a group of women polled on abortion are likely to have a very different answer in San Francisco than they would in more conservative Mississippi.

Age

The demographics of age present a double issue for politicians. First, politicians must remember that it is the demographics of a set of voters, not of the area, that is what keeps them in office. While recent years have shown some signs of this improving, younger people tend to avoid the polls. Meanwhile, elderly individuals tend to vote in every election they can, even if it's just for the local dog-catcher!

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