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GOP weakened by demographic, political forces

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The American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution convened a stellar cast Friday to review what has been learned since November. The panel included Robert Lang of Virginia Tech; Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress; William Frey of the Brookings Institution; Bill Bishop, a Texas writer and author of "The Big Sort"; Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center; and Ronald Brownstein of Atlantic Media. They presented a wealth of data about what happened in 2008 and offered conclusions that would alarm any Republican hopeful of a quick turnaround in the party's fortunes.

Democrats have won the popular vote in four of the past five elections, though in one of those (2000) they did not end up in the White House. In years in which they have also won the electoral vote, Democrats have racked up sizable margins. Obama bested John McCain by 365 to 173, and Bill Clinton's two victories were in the same range. George W. Bush's two electoral-college victories were narrow; he won 271 votes in the disputed election of 2000 and 286 in his 2004 reelection.

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