Sean Trende over at RCP finds something interesting going on with minority polling. The basic numbers at the heart of what may or may not be an important trend are these: the exit poll numbers for 2004/2008.
As Sean notes, how these numbers shake out in future elections determines how much of the white vote each party generally needs to win. Using 2008 numbers, the GOP's target number for white voters is apparently 60%, which is a number that gives Democrats some comfort.
So Sean looked at three recent polls that looked at voter racial demographics: Quinnipiac, PPP, and CNN. In the first two, the tentative conclusion that can be reached is that the Democrats have lost their 2008 advantage and fallen back to 2004 levels*, but that the GOP has not yet recovered its numbers from 2004. This is not actually bad news for the GOP - it supports the argument that 2008 was an one-off, not a realignment - but then there's the CNN results:
These numbers show an actual increase in African-American support for the GOP overall since 2004, and a significant drop in Hispanic support for Democrats since 2008, coupled to the GOP's halfway recovery of its 2004 support. In other words, while all three polls hurt the narrative that the Democratic party has permanently won over minority voters, the CNN poll does the most damage to the related narrative that the GOP has permanently wrecked its standing with those voters.
So, what does it mean? Well, even if you don't want to accept the thought that maybe the Republican party isn't quite doomed when it comes to minority outreach, these polls do make it fairly clear that any election scenario that expects the same kind of demographic breakdown as 2008's is suspect. And before you ask: all three of those polls were done during the middle of July, which means that they were done while the Arizona debate was still going on. If the Democrats' goal was to keep minority enthusiasm for Democratic candidates elevated via selective demagoguery, that goal failed miserably.
*As Sean put it: "...PPP finds that Hispanics favor the Democratic candidate 58-21, while African Americans break 83-8. Quinnipiac finds a 83-3 split among blacks and a 55-27 split among Hispanics."
Crossposted to Moe Lane.