Yes, says Nate C0hn, but not at all in the ways you might expect (short-term mobilization of Evangelical voters). He posted this really nice analysis long before the SC decision, but anticipating this ruling.
Many Republicans believe that their party needs to improve its image among the new generation of young and nonwhite voters who have helped President Obama win two terms. Yet there is a reason most Republican politicians have not tailored their positions on major issues toward younger voters: Doing so would risk angering the party’s base, which is predominantly old, white and culturally conservative.
Enter the Supreme Court.
With the legality of same-sex marriage being argued on Tuesday, the court could allow Republicans to abandon an unpopular position without abandoning their principles or risking a primary challenge. History would effectively be bailing out the party.
So, why is this such a bailout? The demographics of the GOP– which, we all know are white, but which I did not realize were so dominated by Christian conservatives (and who are a shrinking portion of the US):
For all of the focus on the “white working class” or the “gender gap” or the urban-rural divide, the real fissure among white voters is along religious lines. The divide between white evangelical Christians and nonreligious white voters is about as large as the gap between white and nonwhite voters, and it dwarfs the education, income, gender or regional gaps.
The Republican advantage among white voters is a product of this division. There are more white evangelical voters than white non-Christian voters, and so the white vote tilts Republican. [all emphases mine] The remaining white non-evangelical Christian voters, like mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics, have split roughly evenly between the two parties. To the extent that the Republicans have a slight edge among them, it is because of the South.
This was a winning formula for Republicans. There were enough evangelical voters to overwhelm the Democratic alliance between the secular left and nonwhite voters.
That formula is in trouble. The growing nonwhite share of the electorate has played a well-documented role in eroding the viability of the traditionalG.O.P. path to the presidency, but the growing number of non-Christian white voters — the religiously unaffiliated, atheists, agnostics, Jews and others — will pose a problem as well.
Among voters under age 45, there were fewer evangelical voters than non-Christian whites, according to a compilation of pre-election surveys of nearly 14,000 respondents. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, white non-Christians outnumbered white evangelicals by a five-point margin. In comparison, evangelicals outnumbered non-Christians by a three-to-one margin among non-Hispanic whites over age 65.
This shift in the religious composition of white voters is a big part of why Mr. Obama fared so much better among 18-to-29-year-old whites than among white voters over age 30…
High and growing turnout among white evangelical voters, along with growing Republican margins among white evangelicals, helped Republicans offset this trend…
But as younger, less Christian voters age and their turnout rises, it becomes harder to imagine the Republicans continuing to compensate with higher turnout and support among white evangelicals..
If Republicans are running out of room to expand their margins among evangelical voters, then additional gains among white voters will have to come from nonevangelicals.
Short version: the Republicans’ reliance on white evangelicals is a demographic time-bomb. Insofar as this decision helps them move beyond an over-reliance on white evangelicals, it will help them broaden their party.
So, as a Democrat, should I be upset? Absolutely not. I want their to be a sane and reasonable opposition party to the one I support and I think evidence suggests that as Republicans move past over-reliance on (older) white, evangelicals, they will likely grow more sane and reasonable. I would love to have an opposition party that looks like David Frum and Reihan Salam– I disagree with those guys, but they make strong, genuinely reasonable arguments. I’d like to think that, just maybe, this is a step towards getting there. We can hope, as in this case what would be good for the Republican party would be good for the country.