WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- White Americans lean more Republican now than at any time in the past three administrations, a new Gallup poll finds.
But the gap between the two groups has not been larger than in 2010, when nonwhite people showed a 43-point preference toward the Democratic party, and white people chose Republicans by a 14-point advantage. At 61 points, Gallup measured the largest gap between the two ethnic groups since it began separately identifying Hispanic voters.
According to yearly aggregates taken since 1995, the percentage of white people identifying as Republican shifted as much as 14 points during Obama's presidency, compared to his two predecessors. Since Obama took office in 2008, the party identification gap between the two groups has never been smaller than 55 points; only between 1997 and 2000 did the gap touch 55 points.
"It is unclear precisely what role Obama's race has played in these changes," said Jeffrey Jones, writing for Gallup. "Whites became slightly more Republican during 2009, the first year of Obama's presidency. However, the biggest movement came during the next year, when Obama signed the healthcare overhaul into law but saw his approval rating sink and his party lose its large majority in the House in that year's midterm elections."
But despite the shift in their favor, Jones says Republicans, not Democrats, may face a demographic advantage.
"With the U.S. becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse, the balance of political power may shift toward the Democrats unless Republicans increase their advantage among a shrinking white majority, or cut into Democrats' advantage among nonwhite voters," he said.