Tag Archives: demographics

Why So Many Failed to Predict the Reelection

Lessons from 2012

Karl Rove breaks down the lessons from the 2012 election defeat. In short, don’t believe the hype:

The media’s postelection narrative is that Democrats won because of a demographic shift. There is some truth to that, but a more accurate description is that Democrats won in a smaller turnout by getting out more of their vote. Turnout dropped by 7.9 million voters, falling to 123.6 million this year from 131.5 million in 2008. This is the first decline in a presidential election in 16 years. Only 51.3% of the voting-age population went to the polls. While the Democratic “ground game” was effective, President Barack Obama received 90.1% of his 2008 total while Gov. Mitt Romney received 98.6% of Sen. John McCain’s vote. Neither party generated a higher turnout nationally.

Who didn’t show up:

According to exit polls, turnout dropped among white and black Americans (by 8.3 million and 1 million, respectively) but rose among Hispanics. They added 850,000 votes to Mr. Obama’s total compared with 2008. Millennials (those aged 18-29) were a larger share of the turnout than in 2008, but 176,000 fewer in number. They cast 1.5 million fewer votes for Mr. Obama than last time and 1.1 million more votes for Mr. Romney than they did for Mr. McCain. To win, the GOP must do better—much better—with Hispanics and millennials, and also with women voters.

How to fix it:

Tactically, Republicans must rigorously re-examine their “72-hour” ground game and reverse-engineer the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort in order to copy what works. For example, a postelection survey shows that the Democratic campaign ground game was more effective in communicating negative information. It would be good to know why—and how to counter such tactics in the future. Republicans should also emulate the Democratic “50-state” strategy by strengthening the ground game everywhere, not just in swing states. It will be important for the GOP to erase the data advantage Democrats may have in their targeting of potential supporters for their candidates. And local GOP organizations must persistently focus on adding to the voter rolls the millions of people likely to vote Republicans if they were registered. Strategically, Republicans will need to frame economic issues to better resonate with middle-class families. Mr. Romney had solid views on jobs, spending, deficits, health care and energy. But even among the 59% of voters for whom the economy was their top concern, he prevailed by only four points (51% to 47%).

Team Romney GOTV Excuse Making Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

Per usual, Mike Murphy remains the very last person the GOP should ever listen to:

Must Read: Sean Trende Estimates ~7 Million Few Whites Voted in 2012

The numbers are all still fuzzy and incomplete right now which is why I’m holding off analysis and two smart people (Jay Cost and Sean Trende) can be looking at 2 very different numbers. Trende over at Real Clear Politics takes a stab at the remaining votes to be counted and looks at the Demographic changes (or lack thereof) in what drove the 2012 election results.  Read the whole thing at Real Clear Politics:

For Republicans, that despair now comes from an electorate that seems to have undergone a sea change. In the 2008 final exit polls (unavailable online), the electorate was 75 percent white, 12.2 percent African-American, 8.4 percent Latino, with 4.5 percent distributed to other ethnicities. We’ll have to wait for this year’s absolute final exit polls to come in to know the exact estimate of the composition this time, but right now it appears to be pegged at about 72 percent white, 13 percent black, 10 percent Latino and 5 percent “other.”

But that is just percentages.  The actual turnout tells a much different story:

[T]he 2012 elections actually weren’t about a demographic explosion with non-white voters. Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up. As of this writing, Barack Obama has received a bit more than 60 million votes. Mitt Romney has received 57 million votes. Although the gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed considerably since 2008, Romney is still running about 2.5 million votes behind John McCain; the gap has closed simply because Obama is running about 9 million votes behind his 2008 totals. Of course, there are an unknown number of ballots outstanding. If we guesstimate the total at 7 million (3 million in California, 1.5 million or so in Oregon and Washington, and another 2.5 million or so spread throughout the country), that would bring the total number of votes cast in 2012 to about 125 million: 5 million votes shy of the number cast four years ago.

2012 actual vote estimates based on exit polls

With this base line, and armed with the exit-poll data, we can get a pretty good estimate of how many whites, blacks, and Latinos cast ballots in both 2008 and 2012. Assuming the 72/13/10/5 percentage split described above for 2012, that would equate to about 91.6 million votes cast by white, 16.6 million by blacks, 12.7 million by Latinos, with the balance of 6.3 million votes spread among other groups. Compare this with 2008, when the numbers were 98.6 million whites, 16.3 million blacks, 11 million Latinos, and 5.9 million from other groups.

Changes in non-white turnout:

In other words, if our underlying assumption — that there are 7 million votes outstanding — is correct, then the African-American vote only increased by about 300,000 votes, or 0.2 percent, from 2008 to 2012. The Latino vote increased by a healthier 1.7 million votes, while the “other” category increased by about 470,000 votes.

Change in white turnout:

This is nothing to sneeze at, but in terms of the effect on the electorate, it is dwarfed by the decline in the number of whites. Again, if our assumption about the total number of votes cast is correct, almost 7 million fewer whites voted in 2012 than in 2008. This isn’t readily explainable by demographic shifts either; although whites are declining as a share of the voting-age population, their raw numbers are not. Moreover, we should have expected these populations to increase on their own, as a result of overall population growth. If we build in an estimate for the growth of the various voting-age populations over the past four years and assume 55 percent voter turnout, we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population growth.

Demographics were not destiny in 2012

Had the same number of white voters cast ballots in 2012 as did in 2008, the 2012 electorate would have been about 74 percent white, 12 percent black, and 9 percent Latino (the same result occurs if you build in expectations for population growth among all these groups). In other words, the reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home. The other groups increased their vote, but by less than we would have expected simply from population growth. Put another way: The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator.

Where did they go? It doesn’t appear to be the evangelicals

My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

Obama negative ads worked?

Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years. My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

Implications for 2016

But in terms of interpreting elections, and analyzing the future, the substantial drop-off in the white vote is a significant data point. Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party).

 

~10,000,000 Fewer Whites Voted in 2012 Than 2008 (Jay Cost)

Jay Cost counts up the racial breakdown and finds 10 million missing White Voters.  The question remains why did they not vote?

One of my intuitions was that the Democratic non-white vote would not rise very much this year because of the big jump in 2008, in particular in non-competitive states like Illinois, Mississippi, and California. Looking at the hard numbers, that turned out basically to be correct (although the Latino vote looks to have increased modestly).

What I did not anticipate was a steep drop in the white vote. My back of the envelope calculation suggests that the white vote was off by almost 10 million votes relative 2008. [This is the primary reason why Mitt Romney will end up winning fewer votes than John McCain, but have a larger share of the total electorate.]

So, the polls that showed a big Obama edge, often due to a loose likely voter screen, were right for an ironic reason. Turnout was down, suggesting a tighter screen would have been better, but because turnout was down so substantially among whites, the actual electorate looked a lot like more like the broader population than it has in years past (even in 2008). Thus, a loose screen produced the better reflection of the voting public.

A tip of the cap to those who figured it would go the other way. Job well done!

The Battleground State Version of the David Axelrod Turnout Model Take-Down

DISCLAIMER: Blogging may be light this afternoon due to some issues away from the blog.  I’m still apparently 2-3 days away from getting electricity and heading home so adjustments will crimp into blogging.  I’m trying to get out the Clark County early vote post which was a good day for Democrats but not nearly the big day they hoped/needed. I’m not even monitoring my usual source for scoops and posts so I can get the backed-up posts out.  So big news like Romney heading to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (tonight!) will have to wait. My ability to monitor comments is limited.  Play nice.  To newcomers on both sides: no name calling, hair pulling, nonsensical comments or you’re outta here as soon as I notice. Disagree all you want but offer sound reasons not just your blind belief. End Disclaimer.

Today’s must read:

Click on this link and read this whole piece by Reid Wilson in the National Journal.  It addresses my exact point in the David Axelrod Turnout Model take-down. My post was on the national numbers but the same story applies at the state level. This column talking to Rob Jesmer walks you through the exact same arguments state-by-state.  A must read:

A few days ago, I sat down with Rob Jesmer, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Jesmer is usually tight-fisted about his polling; he doesn’t share it with members of the media when the numbers are good for his candidates, which avoids the inevitably uncomfortable dilemma when the numbers are bad for his candidates. But he wanted to open his books, if only for a peek, to demonstrate a phenomenon happening across the political spectrum these days: His polls look nothing like polls Democrats are conducting.

It’s a constant refrain from both sides these days. The two parties, the outside groups that are playing such a big role this year, and even some candidates themselves are so dubious about their own numbers that they are employing two pollsters for one race, using one to double-check the other. What flummoxes them even more is that their own party’s pollsters are getting similar results, while the other side is offering a completely different take.

Republicans say their party is a victim of media bias — but not in the standard Lamestream Media sort of way. Pollsters on both sides try to persuade public surveyors that their voter turnout models are more accurate reflections of what’s going to happen on Election Day. This year, GOP pollsters and strategists believe those nonpartisan pollsters are adopting Democratic turnout models en masse.

Regardless of the cause, strategists on both sides acknowledge the difference in their internal polling. Republicans believe Democrats are counting far too much on low-propensity voters and a booming minority turnout that isn’t going to materialize on Election Day. Democrats believe Republicans are hopelessly reliant on an electorate that looks far more like their party than the nation as a whole. The day after Election Day, somebody’s pollsters are going to be proven seriously wrong.

Deep down, both parties secretly worry it’s their side that is missing the boat.

The Folly of David Axelrod’s Turnout Model

Much of this blog is spent arguing — persuasively I hope — why the polling data and get out the vote activities favor Mitt Romney this election cycle.  But if President Obama wins re-election where could all of this analysis have erred?

Possibly the final remaining question that will determine the election outcome is whether Obama campaign manager David Axelrod is correct on the racial composition of the electorate being 72% White or whether he is fooling both himself and his acolytes in the media? President Obama regularly polls with national support among Whites as low as between 36 – 38%. If Axelrod is correct then Barack Obama has a good chance to eek out a close re-election. But if Axelrod is wrong on the electorate composition and Whites make up closer to 75% of voters then not only will Barack Obama lose this election, he could lose it badly with a final tally in the area of 338 to 200 electoral votes.

The entire Obama campaign is predicated on a voting public with a racial composition that in my opinion is highly unlikely to appear in 2012. The Obama campaign has revealed their assumption that White voters will only comprise 72% of the national voting public this year.  State percentages will vary but those models are not revealed publicly. The Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) is the final arbiter on racial make-up of an election. For months following an election, they pour through every precinct and get an accurate read on election statistics before releasing their results which unsurprisingly tend to differ from election night exit polls.

The racial breakdown in 2008 election according to the Census Bureau was White 76.3%, Black 12.1%, Hispanic 7.4%, Asian 2.5%, Other 1.7%.
The CNN exit polls which are still used regularly in news stories reported: White: 74%, Blacks: 13%, Hispanics 9%, Asians 2%, Other 3%.

When you look at the differences, Whites are underrepresented by 2.3%, Blacks overrepresented by 0.9% and Hispanics over-represented by 1.6%. In the last election Whites voted Republican (55 – 43) while both Blacks (95 to 4) and Hispanics (67 to 31) voted Democrat. When national polls reflect the CNN racial make-up they are over-sampling Democrat groups and under-sampling Republican groups.

As outlined previously, 1.7 million White voters (who voted in 2004) did not vote in 2008. This means from a racial composition stand-point the 2008 demographic breakdown is over-generous to the non-White groups and somewhat of an anomaly due to the missing White demographic who voted in 2004 but sat out last time. This is not an argument against the decreasing percentage of White voters in election, because the overall increase in the non-White voting population is very real. The problem with Team Obama’s assumptions, however, is they decrease the White vote -4.3pp to 72% this election cycle when there is no evidence to support such a steep decline.

Before 2008, the average decrease in the White percent of the popular vote was -1.4 percentage points (pp) since 1988.  This was not solely because of decreased interest from White voters in Presidential elections but due to the increasing number of non-Whites both in the population and participating in Presidential elections. The rate of change from election to election was a decrease of -0.4pp in the White composition of the voting public and most of that coming between 1992 and 1996 in another election when white Republicans were less than enthusiastic with their nominee. Something dramatic, however, happened in 2008. The number of whites as a percentage of the voting population dropped -2.9pp to 76.3% from 79.2% (Pew Research, April 30, 2009).

The doubling of the average decrease in White participation was a combination of 2 competing factors: first, non-Whites were excited over the prospects of the first viable non-White Presidential candidate and White voters of the opposition party were unenthusiastic over their candidate and did not participate in the election.  Without the combination of these factors the White vote percentage of the electorate would still have declined but the decline would not doubled. Compared to the recent rate of change of -0.4pp, the change in the decrease of White composition from 2004 to 2008 was -1.4pp, 3.5x greater than the modern trend.

The folly of the Obama campaign’s election assumptions is the 2008 perfect storm that doubled the election-over-election decrease in White participation at a pace 3.5x as great as the norm will repeat itself with another -1.4pp rate of change resulting in a -4.3pp decline to 72%.

This type of assumption is the same as a football team that has a record first quarter outscoring their opponent 35-0 and then game-plans they will repeat that every quarter scoring 140 points.  That is clearly not going to happen.

In the 2012 election neither of the two major factors from 2008 that conspired to dramatically decrease White participation are evident.  Every survey consistently reveals meaningful decreases in enthusiasm among non-White voters while White voters appear substantially more enthusiastic than 2008. To take a record turnout model from 2008 and extrapolate it to the next election and expect a repeat record decrease from the unusually low 2008 turnout is folly bordering on delusional.

Regarding the macro-trend in the US of an increase in the non-White composition of the population, the return of an enthusiastic white voter coupled with the decreased non-White enthusiasm should strongly mitigate the macro-demographic trend of very real increases in non-White voters overall.

But David Axelrod’s entire campaign is predicated on the above assumptions that expect a “White flight” that exists in no poll nationally or in any state. At a state level, it is due to differences of opinion like the above that both campaigns are reportedly seeing dramatically different electorates in Ohio with each campaign completely confident they will win the state. One of them is very wrong.

National polls often use 74% as the representative White vote in this election, but from a historic stand-point 75% is the more reasonable level which would be a -1.3% decline from 2008. With polls today consistently showing Obama’s support between 36-38% with this segment of the electorate comprising 75% of voters, it is easy to see how a tight race can turn into a blowout rather quickly. As for David Axelrod’s turnout model, he is talking his book when every ounce of data says he is blowing smoke. If Axelrod is right on the racial make-up of the electorate, President Obama probably wins re-election in a close race.  But there is little evidence that the 76.3% of White voters in 2008 when combined with a probable return of the missing 1.7 million whites will make up only 72% of the electorate Team Obama needs to avoid a sizable Romney win on November 6.

Thoughts on Yesterday’s CNN/ORC International Poll With Obama Leading by 4 in Ohio

A spate of polls came out yesterday that I left alone for various reasons but the CNN/ORC International poll with Obama leading by 4-points created special consternation among Romney supporters and readers of this blog.  The reasons behind the concern were party ID and the Independent vote.

The party ID was not outrageous. The split was D +3 (Dem 35, Rep 32, Ind 33) when we are usually dealing with Ohio polls at D +8, D +7 and even D +10. As a matter of fact at the same time as the CNN release, American Research Group released an Ohio poll showing Obama leading by 2-points with a party ID split of D +9. In 2008 Ohio turnout was reported as D +8 although this has been disproven in favor of the real split of D +5. The 2004 party ID was R +5 so the fact that this poll ends up somewhere in the middle says we’re at least in an acceptable range. The other factor causing concern among the pro-Romney factions was that Obama was leading in this poll among Independents by 5-points, 49 to 44.  On those two factors alone this should have been a great poll for team Obama since anomalies in those two areas are the most cited reasons to dismiss the regularly erroneous polls we have seen this cycle.

I tried to contact CNN (OK, I tweeted their political director) for the racial make-up of the poll since they conveniently failed to include that in the cross-tabs and this is another prime area for abuse by the polling outfits.  But alas, my tweet went unanswered. Thankfully incredible readers in my comment sections went to great lengths identifying many other credible sources debunking multiple oddities in this ostensibly credible poll.

I’ll state up-front, this poll does not concern me in the slightest over Romney’s prospects in the state. I try to be as objective as possible when running the numbers and my opinions on who is winning are whatever the #s tell me they should be and Ohio is actually looking pretty decent for Romney.  Yes, I said Ohio is looking pretty decent for Romney.

Independents

Thanks to Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher), we know that in the seventeen most recent polls in Ohio, only three have Obama leading with Independents and two of those are these same CNN/ORC polls. In the fourteen other polls, Romney’s lead with independents is +11.4. CNN/ORC looks to be the outlier, not the norm by any means.  In that same ARG poll cited above Romney actually had a 21-point lead among Independents. This essentially means Obama is not leading with Independents despite whatever the outlier CNN/ORC says.  When Ohio’s ballots are counted, each side will lock down their base and the differential in partisan turnout will be minimal. Whoever wins Independents will win Ohio. Obama carried Independents in Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2008 and today he is losing Independents by 10+ points.  This is an 18-point swing among the voting group who will decide the state.

Early voting

Early voting is over-represented in the CNN poll. According to @Adrian_Gray in the poll 2/5 of Ohio likely voters have already cast their ballot. County election offices say only 1/5 have voted. Both cannot be right. Extrapolating the CNN poll statewide, Obama leads 59-38 among the 1.4 million that voted early. Romney leads 51-44 among 4.4 million have yet to vote. The math is pretty straightforward where the overwhelming remaining voters support Romney and should overwhelm any early vote advantage CNN found.

2012 is not 2008

Obama’s 2008 early voting secret weapon is gone. He won Ohio in 2008 due to an overwhelming early vote advantage.  On election day more votes were cast for John McCain than Barack Obama but so many votes banked away for Obama that it wasn’t enough. Today, according to the same Adrian Gray: “220,000 fewer Democrats have voted early in Ohio compared with 2008. And 30,000 more Republicans have cast their ballots compared with four years ago. That is a 250,000-vote net increase for a state Obama won by 260,000 votes in 2008”

Undecideds break for the challenger

On average Obama’s support level is always stuck around 47% in the Battleground states.  His current Real Clear Politics average in Ohio thanks in no small party to this CNN poll and the ARG poll stands at 48%.  We have shown across multiple elections against an incumbent President Undecideds break between 66-80% for the challenger. This means there is not a lot of votes left for Obama beyond his base and already accounted for Independents.

Between the reversal of the Independent voting block, the neutralizing of Obama’s early vote advantage and Undecideds always breaking 66-80% for the challenger Obama is looking really bad in Ohio.  And everyone today admits whomever wins Ohio wins the election.  To those who are unnecessarily concerned. rest easy.  Things are looking far better for Romney than is being represented.  The networks need ratings and horse-races increase ratings.  Four years ago at this time the race was over yet you could still see stories about McCain’s momentum.  It was just to keep people tuned in because that’s what pays the bills.  They did the same thing for Dukakis and Dole down the stretch when those races were blow-outs.

This race is far from over and 11 days is an eternity in politics, but every sign says Romney has the initiative and Obama is only responding to whatever Romney does. Obama’s fire-wall keeps getting moved back while Romney keeps pressing forward.  You can’t call a race until the last ballot is cast but I’m fairly optimistic on Romney’s prospects in Ohio at this point.  And I’m a pessimist by nature.

Ohio Tied if 407,000 White Voters Don’t Show Up — Gravis Marketing

I need to get on with my day of college football but this poll was too funny to just ignore. We already blogged today that Ohio isn’t the deficit for Romney polling and media would lead you to believe.  Now we have polls aggressively adjusting the racial composition of the polls to favor Obama.

Polls are tied despite heavy over sampling of non-Whites

Earlier this morning the comical SurveyUSA poll of Florida found a 16 percentage point drop in actual White votes (a Romney demo) yet Obama was only up 1%. Now Gravis Marketing surveys Ohio and finds a 7 percentage point drop in the expected White turnout and President Obama is tied at 47 with 6% Undecided.  Still well below 50% and with Undecideds likely breaking at least 2/3 for the challenger, he’d lose 49 to 51.

Ohio demographics

The racial composition of the Ohio vote in 2008 was: White (83%), Black (11%), Hispanic (4%), Asian (1%), Other (1%)
The racial composition of the Gravis poll is: White: (76%), Black (12%), Hispanic (6%), Asian (1%), Other (5%).
Did 407,000 Whites voters leave Ohio while 232,000 “Other” voters suddenly move to Ohio?  That is what a 7pp drop in White voters and 4pp increase in the “Other” category would mean based on Ohio’s 2008 vote. Something tells me that didn’t happen.

Most polls don’t re-weight by party ID but they do by race

Remember how much the media and polling firms mocked the critics over party ID complaints?  The said they don’t weight by party ID so the criticism is wholly without merit.  They admit they do weight by race though so these laughable demographic compositions are things the polling firm consciously CHOSE.  That is two straight firms, creating voter samples completely unrealistic anywhere beyond David Axelrod’s wildest dreams and yet President Obama can no better than a statistical tie … and that’s before we factor in Undecideds who break heavily for challengers.

Party ID

The party ID in this poll is D +9 (Dem 41, Rep 32, Ind 27).  This exceeds what we have been using for the 2008 party ID of D +8 (Dem 39, Rep 31, Ind 27).  But as @NumbersMuncher proved out, the real 2008 disparity was D +5 (Dem 37.5, Rep 32.5, Ind 30) while in 2004 it was R +5 (Dem 35, Rep 40, Ind 25). Far too many Democrats, but in this instance we see it is too many non-Whites and too few Whites.

The missing White vote

When the racial composition is correct, the Democrat over-sampling in polls like today’s D +9 means they are over-sampling White Democrats which hides the decline in support for Obama among White voters.  Now the polling outfits are fabricating racial demographics favorable to Obama with no reasonable justification and still only find Obama tied.  This is bad, bad, bad for the President. Importantly, the 2008 election racial demographics fail to account for 1.7 million White voters who stayed home in that election but appear to be more than enthusiastic this time around. In 2008 that was over 95,000 Ohio voters with a proclivity towards voting Republican.

If Gravis also gave us the preferences of these racial groups (I asked for them) we could easily rerun the numbers, but alas no such details are given like too many polling groups who don’t want pesky bloggers to blow their biased polls out of the water.

The Battle for Jacksonville

Previously I blogged Duval County, the home of Jacksonville, but never just this important city in Northern Florida.  It is one of the few competitive area is the state not along the I-4 corridor.  Size-wise the city is the largest in the US but its population density doesn’t match the traditional “big cities.”  At the same time the area retains a better diversity than  other urban areas thanks to its beach proximity and downtown feel.  From a journalistic standpoint there is some subtle comedy in the piece.  The Obama supporters are either campaign staffers or obviously phony “Republicans” while the Romney supporters are all 2008 Obama voters. I guess they tried to get a balance but couldn’t find “man on the street” Obama supporters. Here is the Associated Press look at the Battle for Jacksonville:

Eric Allen was 18 and voting in his first presidential election when he chose Barack Obama over John McCain. Four years older now and looking for a job, he is just the kind of voter Republican Mitt Romney needs to win — and win big — in northeast Florida’s Duval County and take the most coveted of the toss-up states. “I voted for him last time just to see the change,” Allen says of Obama, “and there was no change.”

2008 surprise

The Obama campaign targeted the Jacksonville area with surprising success in 2008, nearly equaling Republican John McCain in Duval County votes as Obama carried the state. Whether Obama can do as well again may determine if he takes Florida a second time — and with it a second term. In GOP regions of swing states, Republicans must turn out in huge numbers to overcome Democratic advantages elsewhere. Republican-friendly regions like southeast Ohio and southwest Virginia share northeast Florida’s mission of overwhelming Democrats at the polls.

Must win for Romney

For both campaigns, Florida is one of the keys to winning the White House. It’s even more important for Romney, whose paths to Electoral College victory are few without the state’s 29 votes. Even though each side has already spent $60 million on TV and radio ads, Republicans are expected to spend even more than Democrats in the campaign’s final weeks. Polling shows a tight race in Florida with Obama slightly ahead in some surveys, making the Democrat’s turnout in Duval County essential to his overall strategy.

Democrat resurgence in Jacksonville

Sprawling and traditionally conservative, the Jacksonville area went for Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980. After that, Democrats all but conceded Duval County, with its Southern feel and strong military presence. Obama, however, persuaded enough moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats and independents to give his message of hope and change a chance to cancel out the usual Republican advantage there. The Democratic campaign was more competitive in 2008 in part because it built excitement in Duval County’s large black community with voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts to support the nation’s first black presidential candidate on a major party ticket. Duval County has more than 516,000 registered voters out of a total population of about 871,000. The percentage of black residents, 29.8, is nearly double the statewide figure. The campaign will have to keep the same enthusiasm among black voters to keep Duval competitive.

Republicans counterattack

Republicans are trying to put more resources toward restoring the overwhelming turnout they’ve enjoyed for almost a generation. “We have to drive up the score here so that we can make sure that we make up ground in other areas,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus said in Jacksonville in August. “We’re going to have a plan in this county to not just win, but to try to win as big as possible. Winning here isn’t enough. You have to do great in places you’re strong.” The Romney campaign didn’t wait for the former Massachusetts governor to secure the nomination to set up a presence in the city. Unlike McCain, who was far outspent, they’re matching the huge resources Obama is pumping into the area, said Brett Doster, a Florida-based political consultant who is advising the campaign and ran George W. Bush’s 2004 Florida campaign. Along with a stronger ground game — Doster says it’s bigger and better organized than when Bush carried Duval County by 61,000 votes — the Romney campaign believes it will be able to win back Republicans who supported Obama.

Lost that lovin feeling

Lynn Fernandez, a shoe repair shop owner and a Republican who voted for Obama four years ago. Now she’s voting for Romney. While she blamed Congress for lack of progress in Washington, she’s taking it out on the president and hoping, not so optimistically, that a change can break Washington gridlock. “Whoever gets in there is still going to have a difficult time because we’re in such a mess. No matter how hard a president fights, he still has to fight the Senate and Congress,” said Fernandez, 58. “I voted for Obama last time. Not that he didn’t try. We’ve dug ourselves in such a big hole it’s going to be a long time before we get out of it no matter who gets in there.” Larry Mordecai Jr., a 49-year-old Republican who until recently worked in the mortgage industry, said he was proud to vote for Obama in 2008 because the country was divided and he liked Obama’s enthusiasm. He thought he would be an inspirational president. While he hasn’t completely made up his mind, Mordecai is leaning toward Romney and wants to watch the debates before making a decision. “I’m highly disappointed. It’s going to take a lot of convincing on President Obama’s part to really sway me in that direction,” Mordecai said. “I’m not enthusiastic about either party and most of that would have to do with my lack of confidence in Congress.”

Note, there is one other voter quoted in the piece who is labeled a Republican that supported Obama in 2008 and is doing so again this time.  I will wager any sum of money that person is flat out lying and is a staunch Democrat.  This is much like the many fake Republicans in Obama ads that have been busted time and again.

About That Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — Hispanics

I made a number of blog posts on demographics and the Hispanic vote when this blog began a few months ago.  My main thrust was a) The Obama campaign misrepresents which demographics’ vote won them the 2008 election, and 2) Hispanics enthusiasm is way down from 2008 so even if they support Obama by greater numbers, that support may not show up on election day.

The first point remains as true as ever, but it is the second point that gets curiouser by the day. The brunt of my time is spent blogging Battleground polls but occasionally I’ll delve into a national poll or two. The national polls regularly reveal the trend the Obama campaign had been gunning for — Hispanics prefer Obama by a greater margin nationally than they did in 2008.  This is good news for Obama and his “coalition of the ascendent” argument for why he will win re-election. State polls often don’t provide demographic preferences so I haven’t spent time combing through the numbers since they’re rarely there to begin win.  But one of Jim Geraghty’s confidential sources has looked at these numbers and points out many intriguing surprises:

Conventional wisdom holds that Mitt Romney is faring so badly with Hispanic voters that he cannot possibly win. A recent CNN/ORC poll of Hispanics nationally finds President Obama has the support of 70 percent Hispanic voters compared to 26 percent for Mitt Romney. By comparison, John McCain got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008. National polls can be deceiving because they survey Hispanics from populous states like California and New York, who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. Let’s look at the polls of Hispanics in the key battleground states of Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

Florida

  • PPP Florida Poll this week shows Romney with 47% of Hispanics and Obama with 49%.
  • In 2008, Obama took 57% of the vote compared to McCain’s 42%.

Nevada

  • WSJ/NBC/Marist Nevada Poll this week shows Romney with 36% of Hispanics and Obama with 62%.
  • In 2008, Obama took 76% of the vote compared to McCain’s 22%.

Colorado

  • ARG Colorado Poll this week shows Romney with 38% of Hispanics and Obama with 53%.
  • In 2008, Obama took 61% of the vote compared to McCain’s 38%.

Why the improvement?

Team Romney has made some very smart adjustments in both the tone and substance of Romney’s stance on immigration, which is a gateway issue for Hispanics

  • Romney announced that he would allow undocumented “Dreamers” who were offered a two-year deferral on deportation by Obama to stay in the country if he becomes President
  • he would seek a permanent legislative solution for these undocumented young achievers who pursue higher education or serve in the military

Hispanics — who have experienced sharply higher rates of joblessness under Obama than the general population — are increasingly receptive to Romney’s core message of promoting upward mobility and creating 12 million jobs through pro-growth policies

  • a new Latino Decisions national poll has Romney at 33 percent among Hispanics, a seven point increase from a month ago.

The bottom line: Obama is not where he was with Hispanic voters in 2008 and Romney is steadily improving on McCain’s showing, which will be critical in carrying these battleground states. Mitt’s strong debate performance the other night will no doubt boost his numbers among independent Hispanics voters. I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Mitt Romney will do at least as well as George W. Bush did among Hispanics in 2000 (35% of the vote nationally), and he will win a majority of Hispanics in Florida.

Hiding the Decline: What Polls Over-Sampling Democrats Mask

The over-sampling of Democrats in today’s polls most likely hides a sharp decline in support for President Obama among White voters. If President Obama’s support level among White voters dips a single percent or two below 40, his road to re-election would be in jeopardy. The national polling results today showing President Obama with support levels among Whites between 40-44% likely over-sample support for President Obama by 4% to 8% among this demographic. Poll re-weighting by race achieves an accurate demographic make-up for the United States in 2012 but almost certainly a wholly unrealistic split between self-identified Democrats and Republicans. Because the accurate re-weighting of polls by race often achieves political splits that are not credible, polling organizations give rise to accusations of bias when in reality better selected sample inputs would most likely achieve more credible end results but also meaningfully worse results for the President.

Problems with polls

The majority of polling critiques this election cycle focus almost exclusively on the amount of Democrats versus Republicans surveyed with the observation invariably there are far too many Democrats in the sample. There is much in dispute around this complaint because most polling organizations do not weight polls by the party identification of respondents. Polling organizations argue the disproportionately high amount of Democrats sampled draws a sharp inference there are more Democrats in the overall electorate, not just in the sample size. While it is possible and even probable there are a few more self-identified Democrats in the American electorate (the average in elections since 1984 is 3% more Democrats), the great dispute is the unusually large disparity of Democrats showing up in today’s polls, often as much as 7 to 12% higher than Republicans among the respondents. There are many reasons to challenge this conclusion which I will discuss later, but if we assume these polls have too many Democrats, an interesting phenomenon appears among which Democrats are oversampled.

Most polling methodologies, including how polls are weighted once responses are collected, mirror the Gallup Organization who has been the standard bearer in the US for over 75 years. According to the organization, “After Gallup collects and processes survey data, each respondent is assigned a weight so that the demographic characteristics of the total weighted sample of respondents match the latest estimates of the demographic characteristics of the adult population available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Gallup weights data to census estimates for gender, race, age, educational attainment, and region.” Based on explanations like this there is little reason to suspect intentional political bias in the disparate party weighting, especially when they do not re-weight polls by party identification. Importantly, though, they do re-weight polls by race. This gives rise to some curious issues regarding support levels for the President today.

Racial demographics and voting preference in the US

In the 2008 election, the racial breakdown of the national voting public was 74% White, 12% Black, 9% Hispanic, 2% Asian, 3% Other. When a survey is conducted polling organization re-weight the respondent answers to ensure the each of these groups has accurate representation in the final results. Most national polls reflect this reality usually within a 1% variation for any group.

If you look how each one of these groups vote, you find outsized rates of support for Obama among the non-White groups: Blacks ~95%, Hispanics ~70, Asians ~65%. These levels of support for Democrats are consistent with most modern elections although President Obama has been able to boost these levels slightly above historic averages. In aggregate, non-White support for Obama is roughly 80% in nearly every survey. At the same time Obama, like Democrat Presidential candidates before him, struggles with the White vote. In these same polls, Obama typically averages 40-44% support among White voters. His 2008 support level was 43% and it is widely believed by the Obama campaign among others that he needs support of at least 40% Whites to win the election.

Low potential for over-sampling non-White support for Obama

If we consider the idea that polling today has large over-samples of Democrats, the consistently high percentage of support for Obama among non-Whites makes it almost impossible to over-sample minority groups. First there is not a lot of room for support increases and second, data on the voting trends in non-White groups is often achieved through demographic specific polling of solely Blacks or Hispanics for example. Hence, any over-samples in the non-White demographic would meaningfully alter the already high levels of support for Obama and reveal itself as inconsistent with independent polling. Additionally, any over-samples in the non-White demographic would almost certainly change the racial make-up of the survey and set off red-flags to anyone scrutinizing polls. Therefore it is highly unlikely over-sampled Democrat polls contain an excess amount of non-White voters.

White Democrats

This leaves only White Democrats as the over-represented respondent in these polls that arguably over-sample Democrats. If the average in election turnout since 1984 is 3% more Democrats and these polls have 7 to 11% more Democrats, that means the polls specifically have 4 to 8% more White Democrats surveyed in their likely voter results. The problem for the Obama campaign is if his support level among White voters (74% of the voting public) is between 40%-44% and that support is based on a sampling that over-states his support 4 to 8%, his real level of support is probably closer to 36% or 37%. This is meaningfully below the campaign’s own magic level of 40% and is a huge danger zone for any Presidential candidate no matter how much anyone may spin the demographic changes in today’s America.

Hiding the decline

The issue with the suspect polling internals and media embrace of the figures is the consistent lead for Obama would be immediately challenged if his support levels dropped dramatically among the outlined racial groups. Support levels of 60% among Hispanics (9% of the voting public) or 80% among Blacks (12% of the public) would jump off the page to poll watchers. The same holds true for support levels of 36/37% among Whites (74% of the voting public). It would be near impossible for Obama to win the Presidency with support levels like the ones I just outlined. Unfortunately support for President Obama among White voters has declined from 43% in 2008 to apparently as low as 36%-37% in today’s polls absent unrealistically high levels of self-identified Democrats. With White voters making up 73-74% of the electorate and support levels in the upper 30s, it is inconceivable President Obama has the advantage these polls lead readers to believe. But the results largely go unchallenged in the media despite the impractical internal party identification make-up.

Polling bias and Party identification

When we reflect on accusations of bias in polling based on party identification, it seems hard to justify when most organizations do not adjust their polls based on this metric. These organizations do, however, run the risk of confirmation bias where the media and polling firms have a predilection towards one candidate and upon achieving results they agree with fail to challenge outlier data like unrealistic Democrat turnout levels in 2012. Inconvenient poll compositions like the fantastical party identification of respondents shake the credibility of desired outcomes but no explanation is given for such oddities. This leaves more fair-minded poll watchers uneasy with the factual reporting on data with obvious internal issues while partisans react more strongly with bias accusations not substantiated based on the available data. The over-sampling of Democrats may not be showing the bias of polling organizations but it is likely hiding the decline of dwindling White support for Obama.

This only raises the question of where the polling firms are getting their samples from — possibly heavy Democrat districts — because the end results are party identification breakdowns unrealistic in today’s electorate. In 2008 seven percent more Democrats than Republicans identified themselves as such on election day, well above the historic average of 3%. This was a big change from 2004 when party identification was evenly split between the Democrats and Republicans. But there were many reasons for the strong Democrat turnout that do not exist today. The top of the ticket was a historic candidate (first Black President), America had war and Bush fatigue, the financial meltdown created an anti-Republican wave, and his opponent wasn’t the strongest (good biography, bad and underfunded candidate). These factors led to a strong Democrat self-identification advantage at the voting booth in 2008. But in the 2012 election, none of the advantages outlined above are there for Obama and many of those factors are now largely working against the President: 8%+ unemployment for three years, sub-2% GDP, 23 million unemployed, Arab Spring blowing up and casting the historic vote in 2008 is yesterday’s news. Additionally the Romney campaign ground game has exceeded the McCain campaign across many metrics as much as 10- to 15-fold.

Despite the stark changes in each of these factors, polling outfits thus far have consistently sampled an election turnout often greater than candidate Obama’s 2008 best-in-a-generation advantage.

That means something else is going on. But the polling organizations shrug their shoulders and have been found to say the losers in the results are just crying sour grapes. This is even though their sample outcomes have party identification splits unrealistic beyond any stretch of reason. Sadly no credible defense is given for the unusual party split in these results which gives rise to charges of bias whether intentional or accidental. If the polling firms believe today’s electorate will exceed the incredible 2008 advantage Obama achieved they should make the argument to justify results that contain suspect internal data. But they would also have to explain why the 2008 election gave Democrats massive majorities in the House of Representatives yet today’s electorate will likely return massive majorities in the House to Republicans. It defies all logic. But very likely due to “confirmation bias” the media and polling organizations report favorable results for President Obama without challenge.

There are many explanations for odd internal data in polls as well as the built in accuracy issues that come with the very nature of polling. As Michael Barone writes, “it’s getting much harder for pollsters to get people to respond to interviews. The Pew Research Center reports that it’s getting only 9 percent of the people it contacts to respond to its questions. That’s compared with 36 percent in 1997.” But consistently unrealistic sample outputs give rise to greater scrutiny from the polling outfits and media organizations who report the results uncritically for whatever their reasons may be.

About That Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — African-Americans

Yesterday we pointed out how support among both the Jewish community and youth vote are down substantially from their 2008 levels.  Now we get a look at the African-American community from the Economist regarding the often rocky relationship between Obama and this group and how it may impact turnout in 2012.  For both sides who either want to reflexively gripe about or use as a baseline the genuinely  incredible level of support in the Black community for Obama in 2008, take a moment to think about what it would be like if you were a minority in a country and experienced usually subtle but occasionally overt racism every day for 20 or 30 or 50 years and you finally get a chance to cast a ballot for someone of your race.  You would most likely crawl a mile over broken glass to cast that vote similar to the way Blacks voted in 2008.  With that historic vote cast, though, many demons are exorcised and 2012 doesn’t exactly have that same meaning. This group is still overwhelmingly Democrat, but the outsized turnout and support level likely can’t match the last election. That is my entire point when I talk about reduced turnout rates among Blacks expected at the voting booth this November:

It is hardly a secret that black voters love the president (though they may love his wife even more), but the relationship has not always been smooth. If Mr Obama is unique among American presidents, his biography makes him an outlier among black Americans too. He was descended not from slaves, but from an immigrant African father and a white mother. His mother raised him in Hawaii (just 2% black) and Indonesia. In 2007 Hillary Clinton had much higher favourable ratings among blacks than Mr Obama did. Many of Mr Obama’s earliest prominent supporters were white and Jewish, and indeed he has faced consistent criticism, first as a candidate and then as president, for being too aloof from the black community. As president, when Mr Obama has made his race an issue, he has often used it to challenge blacks in ways that a white politician could not. Last autumn he told the congressional black caucus (CBC) to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.” Three years earlier, Candidate Obama delivered a Father’s Day speech at a black church in Chicago, telling black fathers that they needed to “realise that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. It’s the courage to raise one.” A couple of weeks later an open microphone picked up Jesse Jackson, a civil-rights icon who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1984, saying he wanted to “cut [Mr Obama’s] nuts off” for “talking down to black people”

[P]ressure from the black community has not entirely faded, and with good reason. The economic downturn has hit black Americans particularly hard. A Pew Research Centre study found that in 2009 the median wealth of a white household was 20 times higher than that of a black one: the largest gap since the federal government began tracking wealth data by race in 1984. The median wealth of black households had fallen by 53% over the preceding four years, compared with just 16% for white households. In August 2012 the unemployment rate for blacks was 14.1%. That was down from a high of 16.7% in August 2011, but it still far exceeded the national average of 8.1%.

Both the current and a former head of the CBC have mused that stubborn unemployment, combined with Mr Obama’s perceived aloofness to the high rates of black unemployment, may cause some black voters to stay at home on November 6th. (emphasis added)

About That Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — Jewish and Youth Vote

One of the key tenets to the argument that polls surveying Democrat turnout higher than the 2008 levels is every poll shows some combination of either reduced enthusiasm or reduced support for Obama versus his 2008 performance on election day. This poll from the American Jewish Committee (hat-tip commenter perdogg) shows Obama with a substantial lead among Jewish voters 65 to 24.  Great for the President, right?  Unfortunately, that 41-point margin is substantially less than the 57-point margin (78 to 21) Obama had in 2008.

This type of drop among Obama’s 2008 coalition is not limited to Jewish voters.  I haven’t focused as much on national polls, but other groups like the youth vote are also leaving the President’s side.  In the CBS/New York Times national poll from Sep 14, Obama was leading among 18-29 year-olds 53 to 45, only an 8-point margin. His margin in 2008 was 34-point (66 to 32). As we have point out numerous times, in 2008 Obama did not meaningfully increase the youth turnout.  He did, however, meaningfully persuade them to vote for him. Now their enthusiasm is dampened and their preferences have changed.

Dynamics like the ones above will make it nearly impossible for Obama to repeat, let alone exceed, his 2008 turnout advantage in the 2012 election.  These are among the many reasons we find the polls over-sampling Democrats by wide margins to be unrealistic surveys and not accurate reflections of voter preferences today.

A new American Jewish Committee poll found 65 percent of Jews nationwide planning to vote for US President Barack Obama versus 24 percent for Mitt Romney, with another 10 percent undecided. The poll, conducted Sept. 6-17 among 1,040 Jewish voters nationwide, found Obama doing better than Romney among Jews of all religious backgrounds with the exception of Orthodox Jews, who favored the Republican nominee. Taking into account the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, the poll’s overall finding regarding the state of the Jewish vote is similar to other recent polling from Gallup and elsewhere.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 65
Mitt Romney 24
Undecided 10

Democrat Perspective: Why Obama Will Win

Mark Halperin posted a couple documents regarding ostensibly a dispassionate credible assessment of the state of the Presidential race by Democrat Doug Sosnik:

Doug Sosnik is one of the smartest people in American politics. A Democrat, who worked for, among others, Bill Clinton, he is the rare partisan who is able to engage in dispassionate analysis about the two major parties and their candidates. If you want a good a snapshot of where the race stands today — and why — read Sosnik’s analysis here and look at his PowerPoint slides here.

While some people have serious issues with Halperin I actually like his work a lot despite his occasional lurches to the Left.  That said, I wanted to thoroughly analyze the points Sosnik makes to get a better sense of the state of the race.  I genuinely enjoy smart opinions that challenge my own — it only makes us sharper. This 8-page write-up and slide presentation makes some good points regarding Romney’s weaknesses (‘failure to connect with voters’) but I did not find his arguments either factually accurate nor persuasive.  He largely identifies 8 characteristics of this campaign followed by extensive exposition why these factors likely add up to a President Obama re-election. I will offer counter-factuals point-by-point:

1. Obama’s Job Approval Ratings have Held Steady (at 48%)

  • Job approval below 50% is nearly always the mark of an elected official about to lose his job.  Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard went to great lengths demonstrating how job approval percent almost exactly correlates with the popular vote total of a President. 48% of the popular vote is likely a 4 percentage point loss in November. Additionally, even high job approval doesn’t always translate into electoral wins.  In 2004 George Bush lost every battleground State where is job approval was 53% or lower — a daunting statistic for a president at 48%.

2. Obama has Maintained a Year-Long Lead in the Race

  • This is the big rub I have with Sosnik’s piece. A great many of his arguments ultimately rise or fall based on polling numbers that have been shown to be likely wholly unrealistic samplings of the public–always greatly in favor of President Obama. This is the straight forward argument that Obama has led all year by ~3-5 points so what’s going to change over the next 53 days? Nothing, in Sosnik’s view, but if Democrats show up on election day 8 percentage points higher than Republicans as happened in 2008, he’s probably correct.  The problem is all the polling evidence says a repeat of the 2008 turnout imbalance is simply not going to happen due to voter registration changes, enthusiasm changes and a far more competent campaign than McCain 08.

3. Almost 9 in 10 Obama and Romney Supporters are Certain about Their Vote

  • I found this to be a neutral point.  Both sides have consolidated their base (begging the question: is one base measurably bigger than the other like 2008?)

4. Obama’s Support has Remained Stable Despite Voter Disappointment with the Direction of the Country

  • The public’s view whether the country is on the right-track or wrong-track is a horrible statistic for Obama. Sosnik argues that in February this split was 30% right track versus 62% wrong track while in the three Battleground State polls this past week by NBC/WSJ/Marist, all states were at least 42% saying the country is on the right track. While still low, the trend shows meaningful positive momentum heading to an election for an incumbent. Here again Sosnik relies of polling that is heavily biased through massive oversampling of Democrats.  If these polls aren’t reflective of the public opinion (Democrats will have a 10-point turnout advantage in Ohio in November?  I don’t think so)  than yes, President Obama is on his way to victory. But if those polls don’t accurately reflect the voter make-up today, then he’s basing his opinions on discredited poll results.

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Battleground Counties: Prince William County, Virginia

Prince William County, Virginia was a county mentioned in the very first post that inspired the whole Battleground Counties series but I never had a chance to profile this enormously important county in one of the two key Battleground States this election. If one candidate wins both Virginia and Ohio, they almost certainly win the election and whoever wins Prince William County likely wins Virginia so a lot rides on this burgeoning exurb. Just further west of voter-rich Fairfax County, Prince William only two decades ago would have been considered rural, but between the dramatic expansion of federal workers in Northern Virginia and a solid technology sector in this region, Prince William County has gone from horse pastures to McMansions in short order.  This is an area where the obscure sequestration debate resonates loudly –a quarter of its residents commute over an hour to get to work, most all for federal jobs impacted by the cuts. The county’s election impact is undeniable. Between 2004 and 2008 both the population and voter turnout for the major party candidates increased dramatically, from 131, 047 to 161,056 a 23% increase.  To put this is perspective, George Bush won the County in 2004  by 6% with a total of 69,776 votes.  In 2008 John McCain garnered 67,621 votes (enough to beat John Kerry by 6k votes) but still lost by 16% (25.8k votes) to President Obama. This is a changing and increasingly valuable exurb. Local writers at InsideNoVa.com drill down on their once sleepy but now hopping home county:

In June 2008, Democrat Barack Obama kicked off his general election campaign at the Nissan Pavilion in western Prince William County. Five months later, he closed his presidential campaign with an election-eve rally that drew about 85,000 people to the Prince William County Fairgrounds. This Friday, Obama returns to the area, holding a re-election rally in Manassas, where GOP nominee Mitt Romney campaigned Aug. 11 with his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. Prince William, a booming Northern Virginia exurb of 413,000 residents, is home to some of Virginia’s most prominent conservatives, including Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. Yet Obama carried Prince William by 25,000 votes in 2008, becoming the first Democratic nominee to win the county — and the state — in 44 years. The political cross-currents that made that possible — affluence, diversity, cul-de-sacs sprouting where there were once country fields — make Virginia’s second-largest county a key battleground in this pivotal swing state. “If you win Fairfax County and Prince William you’re almost guaranteed to tilt the state,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-11th. As for Romney, “He’s got to take Prince William,” says Connolly’s predecessor, Republican Thomas M. Davis III. “He doesn’t need it by a lot, but he needs to carry Prince William.”

Democrat beachhead in Northern Virginia

For decades, Prince William and Loudoun County, its neighbor to the north, were outside-the-Beltway behemoths that gave Republicans something of a firewall in presidential elections. In 2008, that firewall collapsed. Obama swept all of Northern Virginia, winning Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park. Collectively, Obama won Northern Virginia by 234,079 votes. In the rest of the state combined, he edged Republican John McCain by 448 votes. If Republicans hope to retake Virginia at the presidential level, they will have to chip away at Obama’s dominance in the state’s population centers such as Loudoun and Prince William, the fastest-growing localities in the state.

GOP opportunity

If Republicans hope to retake Virginia at the presidential level, they will have to chip away at Obama’s dominance in the state’s population centers such as Loudoun and Prince William, the fastest-growing localities in the state. Virginia Republicans say this election comes in a different climate from 2008. They say they have enthusiasm on their side and much better statewide organization than four years ago. Marshall said that “the present economic difficulties may turn some Democrats into Republican voters or more likely presidential no-shows and congressional-voters only, because whichever party is in power usually is blamed for the state of the economy.” Davis said Republicans “will do considerably better in what we call ROVA — the rest of Virginia,” than in 2008, but “they need to cut those margins down in NOVA. You certainly can’t make up 230,000 votes in the rest of the state.” That is a challenge because Northern Virginia “is culturally to the left of the Republican Party and we’re losing it on culture,” Davis said.

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Democrat Perspective: Team Obama Thinks They Have This Race in the Bag

I’m all for believing in your candidate, but the self-delusion of the Obama campaign is bordering on certifiable.  They basically expect minorities to make up far more of the electorate than they ever have when every poll says they are far less enthusiastic than they were in 2008 and will likely show up at the voting booth in far fewer numbers. Maybe they will rally to the cause, but nothing I’m seeing would give me any confidence if I were Team Obama. They also make arguments about voter registration opportunities when the numbers overwhelmingly break against Obama.  Finally they argue Obama is a Reagan-like figure Americans find appealing. I don’t see that winning the day when the jobless rate is so bad and the outlook is not optimistic. But here is Team Obama’s view on the inevitability of their victory:

“We could lose.” That’s David Axelrod, President Obama’s chief reelection strategist, injecting an obligatory note of caution into what is in every other way a “there’s-no-way-we-can-lose” assessment of the campaign. From top to bottom, Obama’s team keeps this self-effacing qualifier around mostly for amusement, like a yo-yo, a balsa-wood airplane, or a paper-clip necklace. Every campaign, of course, believes it’s going to win. Obama’s team, however, conveys such a visceral sense of self-confidence that even protestations to the contrary take on air of comically profane absurdity. “I don’t want you to leave here thinking I’ve got my feet up on my f—— desk and I’m sanguine,” Axelrod says after a 51-minute interview in which he surveys the landscape and finds nothing but roses for Obama and thorns for GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “I’m not! I treat this as a struggle to the end, and we’re going to fight that way.”

“They didn’t give people anything to grab on to, and they allowed us to define him before he could define himself,” Axelrod says of Romney. “And now they are playing catch-up. And now they are running bio ads. The summer is when candidates and races get defined. That’s why we made a strategic decision that it was better to muscle up in the summer. I can’t think of a presidential race determined by paid media after Labor Day.” That’s Axelrod’s understated way of saying—feet-up-on-the-desk protestations notwithstanding—that he thinks the election is already over.

Demographics

The sources of Team Obama’s bristling reelection conceit certainty can be found in the usual places and within shopworn metaphors (demographics, ground game, approval ratings, likability). But the campaign also enfolds unique cultural and political touchstones: Richard Pryor by way of Chico Marx. Ronald Reagan. John Kerry. And Paul Ryan…A few choice stats that Team Obama likes to ponder: The white share of the population has declined from 79.6 percent to 72.4 percent in the past 32 years. The Hispanic share has grown from 6.4 percent to 16.3 percent. The black population has increased from 11.7 percent to 13.6 percent. In recent surveys, Obama has an approval rating in the high 80s among blacks and high 50s among Hispanics (he averages 37 percent among whites). More important, the share of married couples has fallen from 65 percent in 1980 to 51 percent in 2012, and among single voters Obama’s approval rating is in the mid-50s.

Voter Registration:

One last point: Obama’s ground game has been registering new voters since December; in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico, the number of eligible but unregistered Hispanic voters exceeds Obama’s 2008 winning margins in each state (that means there’s plenty of pad if Obama’s team registers new Hispanic voters—even if those Latinos register as independents).

Likeability

Many in Obama’s inner circle also believe that Obama is the more likable, Reagan-like figure who can remake his party and the nation’s policies. They see Romney as far more like Carter, who never wore well with his party, was prone to awkwardness, and won the nomination by default. They also doubt any comparison to the economic doldrums of then and now and any possibility of a late-breaking shift of Democratic and undecided voters to Romney (as happened with Reagan).

Florida is Key for Romney

The selection of Tampa for this year’s Convention was no accident by the Republican National Committee and then-Chairman Michael Steele.  For all Steele’s missteps, placing the Convention in this vital state for Romney was a strategically brilliant move which contrasts greatly with the embarrassment going on with the Democrats in North Carolina were they can’t even name the stadium they are holding their rallies due to special interest control over their party (it’s Bank of America Stadium for those who don’t know). The Wall Street Journal looks at a state Barack Obama would like to win but Mitt Romney must win:

If Mitt Romney is to win the presidency, he probably needs to win Florida. To that end, his campaign has set out this week to make sure the state’s voters feel a lot more appreciated than its delegates. The convention is peppered with high-profile Floridians as speakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Pam Bondi. After the convention wraps up, Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are set to head to Lakeland, just east of here, for a Florida “farewell” rally Friday. The campaign also will deploy a host of surrogates in coming weeks to barnstorm the state. The race in Florida currently is a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average of state polls shows President Barack Obama leading the former Massachusetts governor by 1%.

Romney’s advantage

In Mr. Romney’s favor are a sluggish economy and higher-than-average unemployment, both of which have put Floridians in a sour mood and possibly amenable to change. The housing market continues to hurt. And Republicans dominate the state, holding the governorship, both houses of the legislature and every statewide office but one.

Vaunted (and Expensive) Obama ground game

To counter that, the Obama campaign has been organizing for almost a year and a half and has 73 offices in the state. The president also is benefiting from long-term demographic changes that are making Florida more racially and ethnically diverse.

Demographics play a major role

In 1996, the state’s registered voters were 81% white, 10% black and 7% “other”—primarily Hispanic. Today, registered voters are 68% white, 13% black and 14% Hispanic. The Hispanic growth has been fueled largely by non-Cuban Latinos, who tilt Democratic. The totals don’t equal 100% due to “unknown” and similar answers by voters.

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Obama Lead With Youth Vote Continues to Erode

Obama’s success with the youth vote in 2008 has been well documented.  While he wasn’t able to increase turnout dramatically, as many falsely believe, but he was able to disproportionately win the youth vote by 34 percentage points over john McCain.  That impressive margin in 2008 has consistently eroded as the empty promises of “Hope and Change” met the reality of chronic joblessness and greatly diminished outlooks for this demographics. The latest Zogby survey shows Obama with a single digit lead 49 – 41 over Romney with the youth vote which would prove disastrous for Obama in any number of close Battleground states:

For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America’s youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters.

Pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets Tuesday that Romney received 41 percent in his weekend poll of 1,117 likely voters, for the first time crossing the 40 percent mark. What’s more, he said that Romney is the only Republican of those who competed in the primaries to score so high among 18-29 year olds.

Zogby has been especially interested in the youth vote this election. In 2008, 66 percent chose Obama over Sen. John McCain,the highest percentage for a Democrat in three decades. But their desire for hope and change has turned to disillusionment and unemployment. Zogby calls them “CENGAs” for “college-educated, not going anywhere.”

In his latest poll, Obama receives just 49 percent of the youth vote when pitted against Romney, who received 41 percent. In another question, the independent candidacy of Gary Johnson is included, and here Obama wins 50 percent, Romney 38 percent and Johnson 5 percent. But while taking Johnson out of the equation in the past has seen a surge in support for Obama, now the numbers for Romney–and undecideds–increase.

Zogby speculates that Romney’s selection of 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan helped turn more younger voters to him. “It could be his youthfulness,” said Zogby of Ryan. Plus, he said, more younger voters are becoming libertarian, distrustful of current elected officials and worried that they are going to get stuck with the nation’s looming fiscal bill.

“They want change,” said Zogby.

The Thrill is Gone … from 2008’s New Voters

We have noted previously the many reasons for the youth vote souring on President Obama.  We’ve also noted previously that this demographic is slowly losing its loving feeling for Obama.  Now Louisiana State University’s Public Policy Research Lab, tracks the sentiments of those who voted for the first time in 2008. While this survey is of “firt time voters” and not explicitly the youth vote, that demographic comprises much of the “first time” voters.” Interestingly , Obama’s margin with this group is shrinking similarly to that of the youth vote. Republicans don’t expect to win this vote, they do expect to cut into Obama’s impressive 2008 margin. The LSU survey confirms the reduced enthusiasm we’ve seen from the previous polls:

Key Finding: Among this group in 2008 Obama had a 35 percentage point advantage 65 – 30 (page 14), nearly identical to his 34 point advantage among the youth vote. Today that advantage is 30.5 percentage points (page 15) and as we see below, many of those Obama voters have lost their enthusiasm mening many will likely not show up at the polls making that margin even smaller.

Here are other findings mentioned in the Wall Street Journal write-up:

Overall, the new voters still back Mr. Obama. But by a variety of measures, their enthusiasm doesn’t match that of other Obama voters from ’08.

  • Asked if the president deserves reelection, nearly 83% of the new voters who backed Mr. Obama last time said yes, compared to about 91% of other Obama voters.
  • Nearly 52% of the new voters who cast ballots for the president strongly agreed with the statement, “Obama cares about people like me.” By contrast, nearly 64% of other Obama voters strongly agreed with that statement.
  • About 83% of the first-time Obama voters said they are “definitely voting” in the ’12 election, compared to 94% of other Obama voters.
  • Nearly 37% of the new voters are paying less attention to the presidential campaign than they did four years ago, compared to about 30% of the other Obama voters.
  • About 72% of the new voters said Mr. Obama would do a better job of improving the economy than Mr. Romney, compared to more than 80% of the other Obama voters.
  • “In an election like this one that is turning out to be really competitive, those types of numbers matter,” Mr. Goidel said in an interview.

Mountain West States in Focus — Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico

Our friends at the Financial Times take a look at the electorally less valuable but almost equally important Mountain West states and the aggressive Obama infrastructure expected to give him an advantage in the Fall:

Renowned for its grassroots organisation in 2008, Mr Obama’s campaign is building a structure in states such as Colorado that dwarfs his efforts four years ago. Often bit players in the US presidential election, Colorado, along with New Mexico and Nevada in the so-called mountain west region , now make up the country’s swing region and will be vital in deciding the winner in November. If Mr Obama can hold the three states, which he won in 2008, Mitt Romney will have a mountain of his own to climb in the industrial midwest to have any chance of returning a Republican to the White House. With the mountain west’s 20 electoral college votes under his belt, Mr Obama could lose perennial bellwether states like Ohio and Florida and still win, unless Mr Romney manages to flip a Democratic stronghold like Michigan into his corner.

Coalition of the ascendent

Colorado in particular is a microcosm of the trends Mr Obama is relying on to overcome worries about the economy: relatively socially liberal and environmentally friendly and with a growing number of Hispanics. The state also has a high proportion of educated women, another group that leans heavily towards Mr Obama and that he needs to motivate in order to win. As in Nevada and New Mexico, strong Hispanic support for Mr Obama will be crucial, as long as his campaign can get a traditionally low-voting community to the polls.

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Reagan Landslide Overlayed Today’s Electorate

The American population has changed dramatically over the last generation.  When we talk in political terms the demographics are most starkly demonstrated by the “white working class” vote and the Reagan landslide of 1984.  As we outlined in an earlier post:

In the three national polls conducted since April, Obama held just 34 percent of white voters without a college degree, compared to 40 percent in 2008. Thirty-four percent places Obama in the company of Walter Mondale, George McGovern, and the 2010 House Democrats.

Each one of those elections resulted in epic Republican landslides. The National Journal takes a look at just how dramatically the demographics have changed over the generation since that Reagan drubbing of Mondale:

When Reagan routed Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in 1984, the white working class dominated the electorate. White voters without a four-year college degree cast 61 percent of all ballots that year, and they gave Reagan 66 percent of their votes, the NJ analysis found. White voters with at least a four-year college degree cast an additional 27 percent of the vote, and 62 percent of them went for Reagan. Eighty-one percent of minorities backed Mondale, but they represented just 12 percent of all voters then. By 2008, minorities had more than doubled their vote share to 26 percent. College-educated whites had increased their share to 35 percent. The big losers were whites without a college degree, who dropped from 61 percent of all voters to 39 percent—a decline of more than one-third from their level in 1984. That is social change at breakneck speed.

From Republican dominance to Democrat ascendency:

This evolution in America’s social structure goes a long way toward explaining why Democrats have won the popular vote in four of the five presidential contests since 1992 after losing (usually emphatically) five of the six races from 1968 to 1988. Most polls this spring show Obama running near the 52 percent he won among those upscale white women in 2008, and also remaining very close to his 80 percent showing among all minorities. If Obama can hold that level of support from those two groups, Romney could amass a national majority only by winning nearly two-thirds of all other whites—the men with college degrees, and the men and women without them. To put that challenge in perspective, Reagan, while winning his historic landslide, carried a combined 66.5 percent of those three groups. To defeat Obama, in other words, Romney may need to equal Reagan.

Battleground Demographic: Hispanics

I know I have devoted a lot of blog space to the Hispanic vote but they will have a meaningful impact in a number of Battleground states.  Currently both campaigns are fully engaged in a battle for the attention and ultimately the vote of the fastest growing demographic in the US.  Devin Dwyer at ABC News picks up on this increasingly popular campaign Battleground:

President Obama, Republican nominee Mitt Romney and their respective allies are kicking off summer with a push to court Hispanic voters in states where Hispanics could play a decisive role in November’s election.

Obama draw first blood:

Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC, and Service Employees International Union, one of the nation’s largest labor groups, joined the fray Monday with a $4 million Spanish-language TV ad campaign attacking Romney’s economic experience. The 30-second spot — “Mitt Romney: En Sus Propias Palabras” — is reported to be one of the largest-ever independent Spanish-language presidential ad campaigns. It will run in Colorado, Nevada and Florida, the group said. Obama for America, the president’s re-election committee, has been on the air in the same states since late April. It has run three flights of Spanish-language TV ads that feature Hispanic supporters testifying to the positive impact of Obama’s first-term policies.

Romney enters the fray:

Meanwhile, Romney and Republicans have stepped up their appeals to what is the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc, launching a national Hispanic outreach effort led by Carlos Gutierrez, who served as Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush. The push includes a series of web and TV ads with an economic pitch.

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Everyone is Talking About White People Today

In one of two important articles on the 2012 white vote (the other is John Ellis’ piece in Real Clear Politics), Nate Cohn in The New Republic does a lot of heavy lifting (with a great graphic below the fold) identifying the looming weakness in Obama’s focus on growing minority votes — he’s losing the white working class vote at historic low levels:

One demographic has plagued Obama since his primary duel with Hillary Clinton: white voters without a college degree. Over the last four years, Obama’s already tepid support among white voters without a college degree has collapsed. At the same time, the “newer” elements of the Democratic coalition—college educated and non-white voters—have continued to offer elevated levels of support to the president. The latest polls show this trend continuing, indicating an unprecedented education gap among white voters—a gap that could put Obama’s electoral chances in jeopardy.

Losing the white working class vote:

On average, Obama has lost nearly 6 percentage points among white voters without a college degree. Given that Obama had already lost millions of traditionally Democratic white working class voters in 2008, this degree of further deterioration is striking. In the three national polls conducted since April, Obama held just 34 percent of white voters without a college degree, compared to 40 percent in 2008. Thirty-four percent places Obama in the company of Walter Mondale, George McGovern, and the 2010 House Democrats. [NOTE: This is the place where Democrats demography arguments both support their contentions and have significant importance. It’s not 1984 anymore and Republicans need to come to terms with that.]

In 2008, Obama lost white college graduates by four points and whites without a college degree by 19 points. If the national polls are correct, and Obama currently holds approximately 35 percent of the white non-college vote, then Romney has an opportunity to win white non-college voters by 30 points. If Romney does so, the education gap would increase from 15 points in 2008 to 26 points in 2012. For comparison, the vaunted gender gap was 14 points in 2008 and 13 points in the most recent Pew poll.

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The Battle for Virginia

In today’s must read, the LA Times takes an in-depth look at one of the “ground zero” states in this year’s election: Virginia. If one candidate wins both Ohio and Virginia they almost certainly win the election.

A key fact in the piece about the state that cannot be overstated: “Northern Virginia is much wealthier than the rest of the state. It has much more of a connection to Washington, and so it’s unlike any other part of the country.” This is immeasurably important because when much of the country complains of stimulus spending and the incredible expansion of government, it is this geographic area that is THE beneficiary of the spending and expansion. Basically this is where all your money goes. They love Obama and can’t understand why the rest of the country isn’t doing as well as they are. This is the crux of the increasing difficulty for Republicans in the densely populated areas of Northern Virginia.

Nearly the entire article is fantastic so I encourage you to read the whole thing (as a wise man often says). Other than a brief foray into the “demography is destiny” reason for future Democrat dominance (that has been debunked many times) this article is chock full of most everything you want to know about possibly the key state in this election:

President Obama’s reelection depends heavily on young and minority voters. Candidate Obama capitalized on demographic shifts four years ago, mobilizing an army of newly registered voters and becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Old Dominion since 1964. If Obama took Virginia again, he could afford to lose Ohio and Florida, larger swing states he also won last time. Romney, on the other hand, will find it very hard to get to 270 electoral votes if he can’t claim Virginia. “Virginia holds the keys to the kingdom,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee political director, who is working closely with the Romney campaign. Obama has a small lead in recent statewide polling, but Democrats and Republicans expect a close finish. Both sides say Virginia will ultimately be won or lost in the far suburbs of the state’s population centers, where women are a prized demographic — and the biggest worry for Republican strategists.

Serve and volley:

Romney made a campaign stop in northern Virginia last month for an event with female business owners. The Obama campaign responded when First Lady Michelle Obama gave a pep talk last week to campaign workers in Prince William County, an outer suburb that is a bellwether this year. The event revolved heavily around women’s issues and touched on a controversial Republican proposal in the Virginia Legislature that would have required women to obtain a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Control what you can control:

The unknown in 2012: the course of the economy. Virginia’s unemployment rate, at 5.6%, is the lowest of the 20 most-populous states. Yet parts of Virginia that had been booming and trending Democratic — including the Washington exurbs — are still hurting from the recession, which could reduce enthusiasm for Obama.

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The Battle for Nevada

Nevada is one of the countries truest swing states with disaffected Californian’s moving in which helps Republicans while an increasing immigrant population helps Democrats.  Despite all the “demography is destiny” talk voters here express great concern over the economic woes that will likely determine the outcome in the Fall. The Associated Press breaks down the state of the Presidential race today:

Nevada is a true swing-voting state. It chose Clinton in 1992 and 1996, before swinging Republican in 2000 and 2004 for George W. Bush. It backed Obama in 2008. And if history is any guide, it could again choose the eventual White House victor, as it has every four years since 1980. The president is fighting against Nevada’s dismal economy while Romney faces a better-organized and better-funded state Democratic Party machine with a victorious track record. Those factors are leveling the playing field here, and Obama and Romney head into the summer seemingly locked in a close race in a state that both sides expect will be fiercely contested — and a true toss-up — throughout the fall.

It’s been largely a one-man show thus far:

At least $5.6 million in TV ads has been spent in the state, with Obama and his Democratic allies spending roughly $1.2 million more than Republican outside groups. Romney, himself, has yet to go on the air [Caveat not in the piece: Romney announced over the weekend a $113k ad buy in Nevada for this week in Las Vegas and Reno] …While Romney has yet to run any general election ads in Nevada, several outside groups are on the air and providing cover for him.

Who will decide the outcome:

Nevada’s outcome is all but certain to come down to a huge swath of independent and undecided voters here, many of whom say they’ll choose the candidate with the right economic prescriptions.perhaps more than in any other state, the race is shaped by the economy.

Challenges for Obama and his effort so far:

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UPDATE: Hispanics Turn on Obama — Major Protest as Hispanics Occupy Obama’s Denver Campaign Office

UPDATE: The New York Times acknowledges the protest…barely.  It’s the second to last line in the article, but at least they mention it unlike the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (in a story on Obama and Romney Courting Hispanics in Colorado no less!) who both had stories exactly on this issue but failed to mention the protest:

One group of students staged a sit-in protest last week at the Obama campaign office in Denver.

No mention of them shutting down his headquarters but it’s a start.

[Begin Original Post]

Consistent with my complaints that news items discussing Hispanics and voter appeals from Romney and Obama always mention immigration problems for Romney but never deportation problems for Obama, Hispanic activists have taken matters into their own hands:

Two activists began a hunger strike inside a Colorado campaign office for President Barack Obama on Thursday to demand that he stop what they say are deportations of illegal immigrant youths who would be eligible for the DREAM Act that is stalled in Congress. Obama campaign staff members were using a back door to access the Denver field office as the protesters occupied a couch. The office was closed to the public. Veronica Gomez, 24, of Antioch, Calif., and Javier Hernandez, 23, of Denver, vowed to stay put to demand that Obama sign an executive order barring federal authorities from deporting youth who could be eligible for DREAM Act inclusion.

The Denver Post adds dozens of protestors outside the Obama office:

About three dozen immigration activists are protesting outside an Obama campaign office in Denver tonight, while two more activists have staged a sit-in inside the office. The activists want President Barack Obama to sign an executive order ending the deportation of young, undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for conditional permanent residency under the DREAM Act. The activists waved signs and marched in a circle in front of the office, at 77 W. 9th Ave. They said they planned to spend the night in front of the office.

CNN is the only national media to pick up the story but we’ll see if it hits the Sunday shows.  If the Romney camp is on top of their game, it will be mentioned in the next breath after “the private sector is doing fine.”
  • Real Clear Politics is on the protest as is the Huffington Post.
  • SF Gate has a Day 3 update but no national media beyond CNN on Day 1. Can’t report something that will hurt Obama I guess.
  • Even the DemocraticUnderground (yes, I will go wash my hands now) has photos and complains of the media blackout.
  • CBS Denver: Protestors have shut down the Obama headquarters and still no national media coverage. Cindy Sheehan laughs in their general direction.
  • The Washington Post has an extensive slide show and 5,000 word article on Obama’s broken promises to interest groups yet they don’t mention Hispanics have shut down the President’s Battleground headquarters in Colorado.
  • The immigration columnist for the New York Daily News has picked up on the protest and office shutdown.

Lessons from Wisconsin: Losing the Youth Vote

Some of the smart recon from the Wisconsin recall is beginning to filter out and US News has a doozy:

Younger voters were a significant presence in Tuesday’s election. Voters under the age of 30, Crossroads Generation said, made up 16 percent of all voters in the recall election, a higher proportion than in the 2010 gubernatorial election. “According to exit polling,” the group said, “for voters aged 18-29, the Democrats’ advantage among this group was cut in half compared to 2010. While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett held a ten-point advantage among 18-29 year olds in the 2010 election, that gap was reduced to five points in Tuesday’s election.”

[The President’s success] depends in large part on how much of his winning coalition he can reassemble later this year…If Obama is having trouble attracting younger voters to his coalition, as the results from Wisconsin suggest may be the case, then it will be just that much harder for him to go on to victory in the presidential race.

US News accidentally crushes Obama by pointing out Romney wants to reach out to more voters while Obama only wants his voters.

The White House is hoping for a “base election,” one in which each party turns out as many of its most stalwart supporters as it can while independents, moderates, and occasional voters stay home, as was the case in George W. Bush’s victory over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004. Romney, on the other hand, looks to be running a campaign that broadens the base, reaching out to everyone who is unhappy with the way the president has governed over the last four years, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980. At the moment anyway, it looks like more voters help Romney while fewer voters are the key Obama’s re-election.

Maybe that’s why Obama only cares about public sector jobs.  He seems to only want to be President for his voters and the evil private sector voters are increasingly not in that category. And since the youth of America can’t find jobs in an Obama economy, apparently they are not either.  It gives me “Hope!”

Demographics Watch: Mormons and Jews

No political observer expects President Obama to win a majority of votes among Mormons nor do they expect Governor Romney to win a majority of votes among Jews.  However both camps are greatly concerned with “minding the gap” which means reducing the margin by which their opponent carries one group. A Gallup poll released today reveals some good news for the Romney campaign and concerning news for the Obama campaign:

(2012) LDS Jews All
Romney 84 29 46
Obama 13 64 46
(2008)
McCain 75 23 42
Obama 19 74 51

We see among both groups Romney dramatically outpaces McCain, improving by +15 percentage points among Mormons and +16 percentage points among Jews. Although the respective representations of these groups is comparatively small across the nation, each can provide the margin of victory in Battleground states like Nevada (Mormons) and Florida (Jews) respectively.A larger than normal turnout among Mormons is also expected due to the historic nature of Romney being the first Mormon to run as the candidate for President of a major party in the general election.

This is similar to the impact, though on a larger scale, between Barack Obama and African-American voters in 2008. While most demographic groups are not monolithic in their views, certain groups do overwhelmingly break for one political party or the other. In these situations, candidate with an unusual historic candidacy (the first African-American President for instance) can exacerbate even the most lopsided of support. African-Americans historically have voted with Democrats ~90% of the time. In 2008, Obama was able to both increase their turnout (up 2 million versus 2004) AND increase the percentage to 95% of the African-American vote. This level of turnout made the difference in states where the margin of victory was very close like North Carolina (14,177) and Indiana (28,391).

The Fight for Colorado’s Hispanic Vote

When looking at Colorado it is hugely important to remember that Barack Obama won the state by winning the white vote, not the Hispanic vote.  Thankfully the WSJ mentions the hugely important fact that McCain actually eroded Democrat support among Colorado Hispanics in 2008 compared to 2004–contrary to what the Obama campaign would have you believe.

Unfortunately, if you click on the actual article, the Wall Street Journal devotes ~75% of the ink to Obama and mentions pro-Obama arguments throughout while mentioning “oh by the way” Romney would like to talk about the bad economy and the unusually high unemployment for Hispanics, but we’ll go back to writing more about Obama. Also, despite the reflexive mention of negative opinions on immigration any time a reporter mentions Romney and Hispanics, no where is there any mention of Obama’s huge unpopularity with Hispanics over dramatically increased deportations.  They also mention multiple times a national poll showing Obama’s continued support among Hispanics but never mention those same polls show the key weakness Obama is worried about — Hispanics are unenthusiastic about Obama.  Do you think maybe the deportation issue might be affecting Hispanic enthusiasm? Since that would hurt Obama, we’ll just leave it out while making certain to mention the overwhelming Obama preference many times. The slanted journalism is pretty ridiculous. Despite the pro-Obama shading throughout, there is a lot of good data in the article:

Both sides say Colorado, with its nine electoral votes, is up for grabs, and likely to come down to a few thousand votes. Mr. Obama got 67% of the Latino vote nationally in 2008, up sharply from the 53% the last Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry, garnered in 2004. But in Colorado, Mr. Obama’s share was 62%, a number his campaign hopes to boost to 70% this year to offset signs of wobbly support among young voters, independents and moderates. Recent surveys in the state show the race to be close, well within the polls’ margin of error, even with Mr. Obama preserving a strong edge among Hispanics. Obama’s challenge among Hispanics is pretty simple: overcoming apathy — while nearly a fifth of the population, Hispanics in Colorado typically make up just over a tenth of the electorate. The Obama health-care overhaul, tuition assistance for college students, the reduction of ATM fees—these are some of the top themes that resonate with fence-sitting Hispanics, according to an Obama supporter.

Consistent with every other state, the Romney campaign–having only recently secured the nomination–is beginning its general election roll-out:

The team backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, is just getting started and rolled out his national Hispanic leadership team this week slamming President Obama repeatedly—including in a new Spanish-language Web ad—for the high national jobless rate among Hispanics, now at 11%, compared with 8.2% overall. The nascent Romney campaign here sees Colorado as particularly promising, noting that it was the one battleground state where GOP nominee Sen. John McCain picked up a larger share of Hispanic support in 2008 than President George W. Bush had in 2004, according to exit polls. “We intend to do whatever we can to build on that,” said James Garcia, who ran the McCain campaign in Colorado and was dispatched from Boston last month to do the same for Mr. Romney. So far, the campaign has two offices in the state.

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