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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.

Why it matters: You can't win elections without diversity, bigger population centers and sufficient money.

Flashback: Before President Trump, the GOP acknowledged all this. Then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in his "autopsy" after Mitt Romney's loss in 2012:

  • "We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities."

What's happening: Trump threw that out and realigned the GOP base away from suburbs and wealth, and toward white working-class people in small towns. 

  • New Gallup polling finds Trump remains above 50% with rural residents, white men and white adults without college degrees.
  • But he has dropped 9 points just this year with suburbanites — falling with both men and women — to 35%, after winning them in 2016.

Republicans have hemorrhaged support among suburban women during the Trump years. Now, the GOP even struggles in exurbs.

  • Trump's plaintive pleas to these vital voters have become a 2020 punchline. "Suburban women, you’re going to love me. You better love me," Trump said last night in West Salem, Wisconsin.

Another GOP drain: Voters are no longer following the traditional pattern of getting more conservative as they age.

  • In what Axios demographic expert Stef Kight calls the "liberal youth revolution," millennials and Gen Z are sticking with the Democratic Party as they move through adulthood.

The demographic wind shear is also hitting Republicans financially, the N.Y. Times shows in a new analysis.

  • In ZIP codes with a median household income of $100,000+, Biden beat Trump 3 to 1 in fundraising, "accounting for almost his entire financial edge. In the rest of the country, the two were knotted closely."
  • Trump's sweet spot: Areas averaging $50,000 or less.

What's next: Key players in the Republican Party tell Axios they're deeply concerned about winning back the suburbs.

  • Republicans eyeing 2024 runs know the party's current demographic math may not work for Trump again — and certainly won't work for them.
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Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Young people want checks on Big Tech's power

Data: Generation Lab; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The next generation of college-educated Americans thinks social media companies have too much power and influence on politics and need more government regulation, according to a new survey by Generation Lab for Axios.

Why it matters: The findings follow an election dominated by rampant disinformation about voting fraud on social media; companies' fraught efforts to stifle purveyors of disinformation including former President Trump; and a deadly Jan. 6 insurrection over the election organized largely online.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Women take press lead in Biden era

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women will overwhelmingly guide coverage of the White House and politics during the Biden administration, propelled by a slew of newly appointed leaders at major TV and radio networks, newspapers and digital outlets.

Why it matters: While female representation in the Washington press corps has steadily grown, what's changed most recently is the number of women in front of and behind cameras and bylines.