Tag Archives: youth vote

Women, Youth and Hispanics = President Obama

The Winston Group identifies key areas where the Romney campaign came up short in November:

There were three key groups that were problematic for Romney: women, younger voters, and Hispanics.

  • Women made up the majority of the electorate (53%) and Romney lost them by 11, 44-55. That was slightly better than McCain, who lost by 13, 43-56, but worse than Bush, who lost them by the slim margin of 48-51. In contrast, House Republicans in 2010 carried women by 1, 49-48.

  • Younger voters increased their turnout again this year. In 2004 they were 17% of the electorate; in 2008 they were 18%, and in this election they were 19%. Romney lost them by 23 points, 37-60, which was an improvement over McCain, who lost them by 34. However, Bush did much better in 2004, losing young voters only by 9.

  • Hispanics have also increased as a percentage of the electorate, going from 8% in 2004 to 9% in 2008, and 10% in this election. Romney lost them by the very large margin of 44, 27-71. In 2008, McCain lost Hispanics by 36, 31-67. In contrast, Bush lost Hispanics by just 9, 44-53. Additionally, House Republicans in 2010 did much better than either Romney or McCain, losing Hispanics by 22, 38-60.


Despite an electorate that thought the economy was not doing well under Obama, Romney and many Republicans were unable to effectively win the economic argument. This was the case even though many of the policies Romney supported were viewed favorably by the electorate. But the bottom line was that Romney could not counter the Obama narrative that he wanted to go back to the policies that got the country in trouble in the first place. This was largely due to his campaign’s strategic decision to try to make the election solely a referendum on Obama. As a result, there was little clear rationale for a Romney presidency, other than that he would not be Obama. That was not enough to win, as the electorate was looking for solutions and an explanation of how each candidate would govern.

Obama achieved 93.5% of [the vote] he got in 2008. While there are still some additional votes to be added, at this point, Obama got about 4.5 million fewer votes this year than in 2008. Those voters did not vote for Obama this time, but they did not move to Romney either. They were a huge pool of voters that were obviously unhappy with Obama but did not have a reason to vote for his opponent. The inability to identify and reach these disillusioned voters was a significant problem for the Republican campaign.

Why So Many Failed to Predict the Reelection

Combatting the Polling Problem

In addition to fixing a clearly broken brand and attracting more voters, Republicans need to address getting blind-sided by their own internal polling:

In the weeks before Election Day, both Republicans and Democrats were nervous about their poll numbers. Both sides of the aisle have smart pollsters, they reasoned, so how could the numbers that Democrats were seeing diverge so sharply from the numbers the Republicans were seeing? Deep down, I wrote at the time, both parties secretly worried that their side was missing the boat.

What went wrong:

“Everyone thought the election was going to be close. How did [Republicans] not know we were going to get our ass kicked?” lamented Rob Jesmer, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “I don’t understand how we didn’t know. That’s the part that’s most puzzling and frustrating and embarrassing.”

The underlying causes of the errant numbers are the assumptions that the pollsters made about the nature of the electorate. Most pollsters believed the electorate would look something like the voters who turned out in 2008, just with slightly lower numbers of African-Americans, younger people, and Hispanics heading to the polls.

But exit polls actually showed a much more diverse electorate than the one forecast. Black turnout stayed consistent with 2008, Hispanic turnout was up, and younger voters made up a higher percentage of the electorate than they had four years ago. White voters made up 72 percent of the electorate, according to the exits, down 2 points from 2008 and a continuation of the two-decade long decline in their share of the electorate.

That meant that even though Mitt Romney scored 59 percent of the white vote — a higher percentage than George W. Bush won in 2000 and 2004, higher than Ronald Reagan in 1980 and matching George H.W. Bush’s 1988 score, when he won 426 electoral votes in 40 states — it wasn’t enough to overcome the 80 percent support that Obama scored among nonwhite voters.


Pollsters should fix voter screens, used to weed out of their samples irregular voters who aren’t likely to vote. Including only likely voters often leads to a more Republican-heavy sample. But in an era of fine-tuned turnout machines and get-out-the-vote drives, even those irregular voters are likely to show up. Polling all registered voters, rather than those most likely to make it to the polls, would at least give Republicans an idea of the worst-case scenario.

Pollsters should also control more for age, gender, and race than for party identification. One prominent party pollster pointed to a late survey conducted for Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock that showed him leading Democrat Joe Donnelly by 2 points. That survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, showed that 56 percent of Indiana’s electorate would be over age 55. Exit polls revealed that number to be vastly overstated; only 43 percent of the electorate was over 50.

The party-identification question gets to the heart of another misperception that pollsters make. Tell almost anyone that Romney would have won self-identified independent voters by 5 points and logic would dictate that Romney would win a clear victory. But Democratic pollsters say that metric is flawed, and that many Republicans remain so disaffected by their own party that they refuse to identify with it. Instead, some say that pollsters should look at self-described ideology, rather than party identification. Indeed, Obama beat Romney among the 41 percent of voters who call themselves moderate by 15 points.

Pollsters also recognize that Americans’ daily routines are changing, something that has an impact on their surveys. About one-third of all households do not have a landline, according to the National Health Interview Survey, meaning that a significant swath of the electorate is available to pollsters only by cell phone. The percentage of younger Americans who don’t have a landline is almost double that. Pollsters who don’t include a sufficient number of cell-phone respondents in their surveys risk missing out on younger voters — voters most likely to back Democrats, thus skewing polls to the right.

Early Ballots, Youth Vote and Cannibals

Karl Rove has his usual data driven column in the Wall Street Journal that sheds great light on both the national picture and most importantly the Battleground State of Ohio.  Since this blog is all about the Battlegrounds and only the Battlegrouds we will focus on that portion of the column. Rove hits on three key issues that will likely decide the Ohio vote. First, in 2008 President Obama lost the election day vote in Ohio to John McCain but banked so many votes in early voting he carried the state by solid margins. For the final two points it is important to recall that nearly all Obama/Biden campaign stops are on college campus.  This is designed to achieve two important goals.  First, engage a key demographic for Obama whose support has flagged this election cycle.  The second is to energize this low-propensity demographic to cast their vote again for Obama without cannibalizing votes the campaign was already certain to gain.  In each one of the above facets in the Ohio vote, President Obama re-election effort is failing miserably:

Early voting

Adrian Gray, who oversaw the Bush 2004 voter-contact operation and is now a policy analyst for a New York investment firm, makes the point that as of Tuesday, 530,813 Ohio Democrats had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot. That’s down 181,275 from four years ago. But 448,357 Ohio Republicans had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot, up 75,858 from the last presidential election. That 257,133-vote swing almost wipes out Mr. Obama’s 2008 Ohio victory margin of 262,224. Since most observers expect Republicans to win Election Day turnout, these early vote numbers point toward a Romney victory in Ohio. They are also evidence that Scott Jennings, my former White House colleague and now Romney Ohio campaign director, was accurate when he told me that the Buckeye GOP effort is larger than the massive Bush 2004 get-out-the-vote operation.

The youth vote

Democrats explain away those numbers by saying that they are turning out new young Ohio voters. But I asked Kelly Nallen, the America Crossroads data maven, about this. She points out that there are 12,612 GOP “millennials” (voters aged 18-29) who’ve voted early compared with 9,501 Democratic millennials.


Are Democrats bringing out episodic voters who might not otherwise turn out? Not according to Ms. Nallen. She says that about 90% of each party’s early voters so far had also voted in three of the past four Ohio elections. Democrats also suggest they are bringing Obama-leaning independents to polls. But since Mr. Romney has led among independents in nine of the 13 Ohio polls conducted since the first debate, the likelihood is that the GOP is doing as good a job in turning out their independent supporters as Democrats are in turning out theirs.

In Iowa, Disappointment with Obama Runs Deep

These are not the articles President Obama wants to read:

In Iowa, a rural state of outsized political importance, retired nurse Pauline McAreavy is among thousands eager to vote against President Barack Obama after four years of disappointment. McAreavy holds a personal grudge against the president that dates back to 2008, when she hosted Obama’s supporters for three weeks in the Midwestern state that nurtured his improbable White House dreams. She never got a thank you note for her small role in helping land Obama in the White House, but McAreavy’s antagonism goes deeper, the product of broken promises and accumulated disillusion with the “hope” promised by the man who has billed himself an “adopted son” of Iowa. “Obama gave us this ‘no red, no blue state’ America,” said McAreavy, 78. “I was fooled, I kick myself everyday,” she said. “I said: ‘In four years I’ll get you buddy — and I’m going to.'”

Breaking up with Obama

McAreavy is among many voters in midwestern Iowa — which kicks off the presidential nominating contests every four years — who have abandoned their allegiance to Obama’s platform. Their lack of support, revealed in two dozen interviews with Iowa County residents, is at the heart of the president’s challenge in seeking a second term in what has become a very tightly contested White House race. Sweeping in front of her house in Williamsburg, McAreavy recalled how she had thought Obama would bring a politically divided country together and that electing the first African American president of the United States would be “wonderful” for this country. “He didn’t, he tore us more apart. I did feel maybe the world didn’t like America, but the world hates us more now than they did before!” she said.

One way street with 2008 voters

Many voters who chose Obama last time around are quick to vent frustration over the discrepancy between what they had hoped from a historic Obama presidency and what actually transpired. Almost no McCain voters, meanwhile, seem ready to cast a ballot for the Democrat. Even if Obama wins the state of Iowa and the entire election this year, the victory will be narrow and will lack the sweet taste of 2008. Back then, Obama got 54 percent of vote in Iowa against 44 percent for McCain. But in this race, no poll gives him more than 51 percent, and Romney is only two points behind, on average.

Despondent Democrats

[T]he president’s supporters — and there are still legions of them — are gloomy. Many cite Republican control of the House of Representatives and its sizeable contingent in the Senate as extenuating circumstances. All search for excuses. “Every election it’s the lesser of two evils,” said Williamsburg librarian Carol Uhlmann, a 72-year-old registered Democrat…Inside the Williamsburg Public Library, a woman playing with a young girl has already decided not to vote for Obama, like she did four years ago. “I’m going to go with the change,” said the woman, who would only give her first name Ann.

Embracing Romney

[D]isenchantment with Obama is not the only factor explaining Romney’s impressive climb up the polls, as the Republican steadily builds his base of support while softening his public image. Romney was not the first choice for Sarah, an 89-year-old Lutheran, because he is of Mormon faith. But she has grown accustomed to the him thanks to repeated campaign appearances that are a tradition in Iowa, which likes to see its candidates up close, shake their hands and look them in the eyes. Sarah said she became especially comfortable after seeing Romney’s large family — he has five sons — on television. And she is far from being alone. National polls by the Washington, DC-based Pew Center show that Romney’s favorability ratings jumped from just 37 percent in July to 50 percent in October.

Youth vote

Even young people, among Obama’s most ardent supporters in 2008, appear disillusioned. Sam Tracy, who delivers beer in Marengo, said he plans to abstain from voting, disgusted by the political impasse in Washington. In 2008, the registered Independent proudly cast a vote for Obama in an election that made the history books. “Based on what we were coming from, there was a lot of enthusiasm for Obama, but now that he’s in office, the shine has worn off,” Tracy said.

Reporter Finds First Five Students at Columbus, OH Obama Rally Are Romney Supporters

This is rich (h/t @mattmargolis):

The cheering midst of a rally featuring President Barack Obama and a largely college-age crowd of 15,000 on the Oval at Ohio State University would not seem a likely place to encounter those not in the president’s corner. Yet, the first five students approached at random by a Dispatch reporter on Oct. 9 turned out to support Republican Mitt Romney and his aspirations of replacing Obama in the White House.

It’s not 2008 any more:

The must-vote adoration and enthusiasm for Obama isn’t what it once was among 18- to 29-year-old Millennials in central Ohio, a must-win area in a must-win state for presidential hopefuls. This is not 2008, when two-thirds of the youth vote broke big for Democrat Obama and his message of change amid the accompanying offer of making history by electing the first black president. This is 2012, with Obama running on a recession-riddled record. Job prospects are iffy for even educated young Ohioans. Some fear their generation is in danger of failing to match or better their parents’ now-dinged lifestyles.

Columbus and demographics

Millennials, an increasingly diverse and growing group representing 16 percent of Ohio’s population, are coveted by both Obama and Romney, with both making college campuses a frequent stop. And the biggest of them all, Ohio State and its 56,387 main-campus students, rests in the heart of Franklin County, which cast 50 percent of the presidential vote in a 20-county swath of central Ohio four years ago. Obama chose OSU, in fact, to kick off his re-election campaign at a May 5 rally…Franklin County typically is vital turf in presidential elections, with successful Democrats such as Obama relying on six-figure wins to overcome the GOP votes cast by the reliably Republican counties dominating central Ohio.

About that enthusiasm gap — Youth vote

But, courting and turning out the votes of youth, who are less reliable in going to the polls than older voters are, is proving more difficult this time around — a trend that could work against Obama’s re-election chances. National polls suggest Obama still enjoys a near 20 percentage-point advantage over Romney among young adults, but their enthusiasm has waned, leaving them less likely to vote than in 2008. Polling late last month by the Pew Research Center found young voters, who have cast a majority of their votes for Democrats in the past three presidential elections, are significantly less engaged than in 2008. Sixty-three percent of young registered voters plan to cast ballots this year, compared with 72 percent four years ago. And 61 percent call themselves “highly engaged” this year, down from 75 p ercent in 2008.

Herb Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State, said youthful excitement over Obama has been tempered by the “real world and reality” of governing during tough times…Asher expects Obama to be a favorite again with Millennials in central Ohio but adds a footnote: “The real question is not so much the level or loyalty of support but turnout. … The youth vote is an integral part of his strategy and extremely important here.”

About that Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — Seniors, Youth, Hispanics

Over the weekend Chuck Todd pointed out what regular readers of this blog have known all along: President Obama’s 2008 coalition is both less supportive and less enthusiastic than they were in 2008. In a Politico Battleground poll today the same enthusiasm trends shine through.  What is even worse for Obama about these figures, is they are all before the disastrous debate performance:

Well, it’s simply an enthusiasm gap. And we’re seeing it across the board. Look at here in this first one. 79% of Republicans call themselves extremely interested in this election. On a scale of one to ten, that means they said they’re a nine or a ten on interest in the election. 73% of Democrats.

Look at four years ago. It was a 13 point gap in favor of the Democrats. Let me go through some various voting groups. This is an important voting group. Seniors are an important voting group to Mitt Romney now. He leads them by about 10 points in our NBC Wall Street Journal poll. Look at this in engagement in the election. Four years ago was 81%, pretty higher. Even higher this time at 87%. And Romney’s doing better among seniors than McCain did.

Let me go to an important voting group for the president, young voters. Look at this engagement level: 52% now they call themselves, voters 18 to 34, call themselves extremely interested in this election. Four years ago it was 72%. That 20 gap. The president wins young voters by huge margins. He’s winning them by some 20-plus points. [ed.- but down from 34 pts in 2008] But if you don’t have this kind of enthusiasm, they’re not going to show up to the polls.

And then let me give you this last one here, because this is, I think, the most important one. And that’s Hispanics. The President’s winning Hispanics by 50 points. He hit the 70% mark. However, look at this in terms of interest in the election. 59% now, it was 77%. What does that mean? President got 65%, I believe, of Hispanics four years ago.

So even though he’s going to get more Hispanics, if less of them turn out, it’s a net zero. And yet, you look at Republican enthusiasm, up, senior enthusiasm, up. It’s a huge problem. And by the way, all of this, pre-debate.

What is Waiting for President Obama at His Rally in Wisconsin Today?

Two mobile billboards will roam around Obama’s Wisconsin event. “In the Obama economy, over 20 million young Americans are living back home with their parents. It’s your choice: move home with mom and dad OR 12 million new jobs for American workers.”

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

Quinnipiac Indicts Itself in Polling ID Debate

National Journal interviewed pollsters on the great party ID debate and Republican complaints that far too many Democrats are being sampled in the surveys. They gave fair hearings to both the polling outfits and critics like Rick Wilson in yesterday’s New York Daily news who observed thusly:

“Far too many of the public and media polls have set their likely voter screens and models to something looking more optimistic than the 2008 turnout model,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson wrote in Sunday’s New York Daily News, “which even Obama’s most dedicated partisans think is highly unlikely.”

But the real loser in this debate was Doug Schwartz, director of Quinnipiac Polling. In addition to childishly dismissing the complaints as sour grapes by Republicans, Schwartz indicts himself in explaining the controversy:

Schwartz, whose institute conducts polls in battleground states for CBS News and The New York Times, asserts that pollsters who weight according to party identification could miss the sorts of important shifts in the electorate that could be determinative.

“A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compared it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party ID gap,” Schwartz said. Democrats and Republicans represented equal portions of the 2004 electorate, according to exit polls. But, in 2008, the percentage of the electorate identifying as Democrats increased by 2 percentage points, to 39 percent, while Republicans dropped 5 points, to 32 percent.

Asked specifically about GOP complaints regarding the party-ID composition of public surveys, Schwartz said: “They’re the ones trailing in our swing-state polls.” “There are more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party,” he added.

Our entire point is party ID changes from election to election yet Quinnipiac and the other polling outfits act like 2008 is the baseline and they are adjusting upwards in favor of Democrats from there.  2008 was a best-in-a-generation advantage for Democrats.  Obama’s job approval is locked below 50%.  The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 3 years and it’s actually higher if you count the people so despondent they simply quit looking for a job. There isn’t one economic indicator that is positive for President Obama and the economy always surveys as by far the #1 issue for voters (there is never even a close 2nd). Every single survey shows Obama’s 2008 coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008 (especially Hispanics and the youth vote).  But Schwartz and other lemmings use 2008 as the norm and add in more Democrats for flavor because according to Schwartz “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.”  Few dispute more people identify with the Democrats which is why polls should be D +2 or D +3.  However, no sane person looks at the litany of reasons outlined above and says I think Obama’s going to have even a bigger advantage in 2012 than he had in 2008.  It’s professionally incompetent to reach such an absurd conclusion only the most politically partisan person could reach.

About those Susquehanna Polls Saying Pennsylvania is in Play — Must Read

Plenty of people on the Right were emboldened when they read the latest poll from Susquehanna showing Romney within 2-points in Pennsylvania while nearly the entirety of the Left dismissed the polls as inaccurate.  Thankfully Susquehanna Polling and Research took to the interwebs and explained their methodology.  Bottom line they are using a D +6 model (PA was D +7 in 2008 and D +2 in 2004) but they are meaningfully lowering the amount of youth vote they expect to make up the Pennsylvania electorate this Fall.  Also note, embedded in the explanation is the reality that yes, the Obama re-election team actively lobbies pollsters for voter turnout models far to their advantage but not necessarily accurate portrayals of the voting public:

Our vote model for gauging the number of interviews conducted with voters of different demographic groups (things like party affiliation, racial background and age range, etc.) is a blend of turnout models from both the 2008 and 2004 presidential elections, but leans more towards 2004 VTO and is predicated on the belief that turnout this November will not be anywhere near ’08 levels when 5.9 million votes were cast.

First, our ratio of interviews conducted with Republicans and Democrats in our recent polls (49D – 43R) gives Democrats a 6-point advantage based on the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in actual registration.  However, this ratio is slightly more Republican based on both national and state polling showing that Republicans are more likely to vote than Democrats this year given high intensity among Republicans who strongly disapprove of the President’s job performance.  Nonetheless, this +6 Democratic advantage is only one point less Democrat than the 7-point advantage these same exit polls gave Democrats in the 2008 presidential election.  Besides, simply conducting more surveys with Democratic voters (as some have suggested) doesn’t necessarily translate into more votes for President Obama when you consider that Mitt Romney is winning Democratic-leaning counties in Western Pennsylvania by ten or more percentage points.  Nonetheless, it is entirely appropriate to sample Republicans one or two points higher than in 2008 if you believe as we do that voter turnout this November will have little resemblance to the last presidential election.

Second, our ratio of younger to older voters reflects turnout that is likely to be slightly higher with older voters given the lack of enthusiasm from younger voters.  In our surveys, 18-44 yr. olds make up 30% of all interviews and voters 45 years of age and older represent the remaining seventy percent.  For instance, according to 2008 exit polls voter turnout among 18-29 year olds peaked at 18%, but national and state polling proves interest among younger voters down sharply this year due to higher unemployment with younger voters and college graduates in particular.  So conducting approximately ten percent of surveys with 18-29 year olds is a reflection of this lower anticipated turnout among these less-enthusiastic voters.  Besides, the fact that Obama backers have suggested that over sampling older voters skews results in favor of Mitt Romney is a striking revelation in a state like Pennsylvania known for having the 5th largest population of senior citizens in the country.

Third, recent polls showing a double-digit lead for Obama are not believable, and are probably using the 2008 voter turnout as the basis of their survey model.  It is simply unrealistic to think Obama can or will win the Keystone State by the same double-digit margin he won by four years ago when you consider that most state and national polls continue to show most voters unhappy with the direction of the country after two straight years of unemployment at 8% or higher.  This is why our statewide polls conducted every month since the primaries shows the President failing to hit fifty percent in most key measurements like favorable name ID, job approval and his ballot score.  Plus, polling we have conducted in dozens of state senate and house races on behalf of incumbent legislators and other candidates, PACs and other special interest groups shows Obama’s support down an average of seven percent when compared with his vote margins in these same districts four years ago.  We estimate this 7-point drop off could mean up to 434,000 fewer votes cast for Obama this November, leaving a margin of less than 200,000 votes between the candidates.  Based on this, perhaps the Phil’ Inquirer poll showing Obama winning by a bigger margin than he won by four years ago is the real outlier.

For these reasons and others we fully stand by our results, and all indications are that the upcoming election will be closer than many others suggest.


Making the Case Against Polls Over-Sampling Democrats — Today’s Must Read

Time after time we see polls with funny results invariably in favor of President Obama and get our panties in a bunch that the results have no value while Obama advocates masquerading as journalists trumpet the results as confirming the inevitability of Obama winning this election .

But what is our reason for holding on to this belief when poll after poll says we are losing, even if ever-so-slightly? Jay Cost smartly made the quantitative case. Today I am going to make the substantive case.

First is the set-up: Barack Obama’s 2008 performance.  As we have outlined countless times, in November 2008 the Democrat turnout machine had a banner day when actual voters at the polling booths out numbered Republicans by 7 percentage points (note other exits have it as high as 8-points).  The representative electorate self-identified as the following: Democrats: 39%, Republicans: 32%, Independents: 29% or D +7. Very impressive following 2004 when the split between the parties was dead even (37 to 37).

In 2008, ahead of the election, Rasmussen Reports, who the Left loves to decry as partisan, had party affiliation at Dems +7, Dem: 41, Rep 34, Ind 25 — just as it was on election day. Others showed similar but greater Democrat advantages than what showed up on election day. For example, the generic ballot according to Pew Research showed Democrats with a +10 point advantage 38 to 28 . The generic ballot from Gallup had Democrats +12, 53 to 41.

There were many factors that gave Democrats such an advantage: historic viable candidate (Obama), war fatigue, financial meltdown, divisive incumbent, and inept opponent (McCain — good biography, bad candidate) all factored into a strong Democrat performance in 2008. Today none of those advantages are there for Obama and many of those are now largely working against Obama: 8%+ unemployment, sub-2% GDP, 23 million unemployed, Arab Spring blowing up, historic vote is yesterday’s news.

All of this adds up to a steep change in his own base’s enthusiasm which means Obama’s huge advantages at the voting booth in 2008 will be greatly diminished in 2012, the only question is by how much.  This is why President Obama has spent his entire campaign and Convention on hot-button cultural issues to fire up his base (Quite honestly can anyone outline his 2nd term agenda?).  His coalition for victory in 2008 relied heavily on voters who typically do not show up on election day like they did in 2008. The problem today is that survey after survey comes to the same conclusion:”Democratic Voting Enthusiasm Down Sharply From 2004, 2008.” This is why I title some blog posts: “What happens if Obama’s voters don’t show up?” The simple truth is that the pendulum of party affiliation has swung back from the strong showing in 2008 to a more balanced electorate in 2012.  This is what you see in the weekly generic tracking poll from Rasmussen Reports where either party has a 1-2 point advantage  depending on the week.  President Obama got a bump from his Convention so a 2-point advantage for Republicans shifted to a 2-point advantage for Democrats last week (it’s first lead since January).  The overall trend is unchanged — a very closely divided electorate.

This closely divided electorate is in no way shape or form represented in the relentless drumbeat of polls we get today from NBC, CNN, Fox News, Quinnipiac, ABC, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Marist, etc.

But what happens when you re-weight polls to reflect the last election when all the current data tells you voter preference has sharply changed?  You get stories like this one in 2010:

NEWSWEEK Poll: Democrats May Not Be Headed for Midterm Bloodbath

Obama’s approval continues to slide, but Bush’s legacy still haunts the GOP.

As Democrats prepare for considerable losses in the November elections, there’s reason to believe the party in power may not be headed for the bloodbath it might expect. According to a new NEWSWEEK Poll, President Obama’s approval rating—47 percent—indicates that the party is better off this year than Republicans were in 2006, when the GOP lost 30 House seats, and than the Democrats were in 1994, when they lost 52 House seats. Obama’s approval has fallen 1 percentage point since the last NEWSWEEK survey in June, but the White House has gained ground on several specific issues, specifically his handling of the economy, which has risen to 40 percent (from 38 percent) over the past two months.

Newsweek found a  45-45 tie  for Congressional preference ahead of the 2010 mid-terms. But when you look at the party vote breakdown, Democrats are winning 90% of the Democratic vote and Republicans are winning 94% of the Republican vote BUT Independents favor Republicans by 12 points: 45 to 33 – sound familiar?  It’s impossible to have a tied race when both sides lock up their bases and one side is winning Independents decisively.  So Newsweek re-weighted this poll to reflect the 2008 party identification for Democrats with a 7-point advantage to create a tied race ahead of what became a historic bloodbath at the Federal and State level the likes of which Republicans had never seen before.

This is exactly what is happening today.

In yesterday’s NBC/WSJ/Marist poll Romney led with Independents in both Ohio and Virginia but was losing decisively in both polls. We see this in nearly every state poll.  In the ABC/Washington Post national poll on September 11 Romney led Independents by 11-points but by oversampling Democrats they made the race virtually tied. In the CNN/ORC September 10 poll Romney led among Independents by 14-points but was losing the top-line result by 6-points. These are not surveys of the electorate, they are advocacy pieces pushing an agenda.

Te reality is very simple.  Major blocs of Obama voters are less enthusiastic and increasingly unlikely to show up at the polls in anywhere near the fashion they did in 2008.  This is true for Hispanics and the youth vote while the African-American vote has largely returned to historic voting patterns (90% support for Democrats). At the same time Republicans are greatly enthusiastic about voting in no small part due to the divisiveness of President Obama. The generic Congressional ballots and party affiliation surveys reflect a near 50/50 divided electorate between the parties more reminiscent of 2004 than 2008. Today’s polling, however, for whatever their stated reasons may be continue to report polls more representative of the 2008 electorate than anyone can reasonably argue will be the case. All the “micro-targeting” in the world won’t make up for a 5-6 percentage point shift in the electorate.

In 2008 you had a greatly fired up Democrat Party show up at the polls in droves while Republicans were dejected over a disappointing candidate and horrible confluence of events in the Fall of 2008.  Today Barack Obama has to own the failed economy, the dissatisfaction with his signature achievement Obamacare and meet a rejuvenated Republican Party.  The electorate in November 2012 will look dramatically different than current polling indicates which will leave more than a few “independent” journalists wiping away tears with printouts of these worthless polls.

“The Poster”

Poll Shows Romney up Huge with Seniors — Foster McCollum White & Associates

UPDATE: Be sure to read the first comment below.  It is from the President of Foster McCollum explaining in great detail their poll weighting that was not reflected in the disproportionate sample sized mentioned in my post as well as other trends they are finding.  There is a ton of additional data in that comment. In brief, according to Mr. Foster:

Based on the respondent universes, we made the adjustment weight for the five underrepresented groups. Even though our model projects a lower turnout among primarily voters under 50, we weighted the voters ages 18 to 30 at 12% of the possible election universe and voters ages 31 to 50 at 15%, for a total of 27%.

Additional factors within our cross tabs relate to the shift in Obama’s fortunes in the state:
• White Women – He is losing both in Florida and in our Michigan poll
• People ages 31 to 50 – He won this group handily in 2008, but with the economic challenges and housing struggles, this group is more disenchanted then before.
• Florida Latino voters – the Cuba community seems to be coming home to the Republican party.
• People don’t understand Obama’s plan to Ryan’s plan – Paul Ryan has provided Mitt Romney with cover for lacking details about his economic and budget plans. People can at least understand and make sense of what Ryan wants to change about Government. President Obama’s plan still seems vague to most voters. It isn’t in clear easy to understand bullet points.
• Joe Biden – Biden is not helping Obama with white men, Catholics and seniors anymore. His verbal missteps takes the Obama campaign off message.

Update II: Please take a second and check out my thoughts on the track record of polling firm Foster McCollum White & Associates.

Begin original post:
We have seen polling from Foster McCollum previously and identified the group as a Democrat polling firm.  At the time they showed Obama with a 1-point lead in Michigan which was in-line with multiple other polling in Michigan.  Today’s poll, however, is an enormous outlier relative to other polling in Florida. In the survey Romney leads by 15-points over President Obama in Florida.  But underneath this incredible headline result we see many problems with the make-up of respondents.

The major discrepancy is the age breakdown of voters.  Florida is a retirement haven for many seniors which skews the state polling disproportionately higher in age breakdown relative to the nation.  But this poll was 63.54% aged 66+ and 1.33% were 18 to 30.   Florida may be old, but not that old. Based on 2008 exit polls, the Youth vote made up 15% of the electorate in Florida while Seniors made up 22%. These two groups were hugely disparate in their preferences in 2008.  In a state where Obama won by 3 percentage points, Seniors in Florida voted in favor of John McCain by 8 points (63 to 45) while the youth vote was strongly in favor of Obama by 24 points, 61 to 37. So this survey seriously over-samples Seniors — a staunch Republican demographic while undersampling the Youth vote — a staunchly Democrat demographic.

Biasing the poll towards Obama, the gender breakdown in the poll was 57.62% women and 42.38% men.  In 2008 both demographics voted for Obama by 3-5 percentage points, but today men skew heavily for Romney while women skew heavily towards Obama.

The party ID was Dem 38%, Rep 41% (or R +3).  In 2008 the party ID was Dem +3 and in 2004 it was Rep +4.

The race breakdown also over-represented white and under-represented Blacks and Hispanics.

Based on the over-weighting of seniors as well as ethnicity problems, the only salient takeaway from this poll is that the Romney addition of Ryan to the ticket is hugely popular with seniors — contrary to relentless mainstream media misrepresentations that say otherwise

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 … for Obama in Iowa — Today’s Must Read

Jennifer Jacobs in USA Today takes a 1300+ word in-depth look at the souring coalition of voters that helped President Obama carry Iowa in 2008:

Some of the once-euphoric Iowans who helped inspire the nation to embrace Barack Obama in 2008 are experiencing a deep-seated buyer’s remorse over their role in delivering the White House to a candidate they think has let them down. Take longtime Democrat Debbie Smith. Four years ago, she wore the Obama T-shirts, went to his rallies, made her first campaign contribution and caucused for the first time. “I wish to have my vote back,” said Smith, 51, a small business owner from Clive. “I feel completely responsible, and I feel like I need to tell people this.” A sense of betrayal shows up in Iowa polling conducted by rival Mitt Romney’s campaign, said its pollster, Neil Newhouse. It’s a discomfiting hurdle for Obama in a state he professes to have strong emotional ties with, that he won by a landslide four years ago, and that could prove pivotal this year for him or for Romney. In an attempt to hold Iowa, Team Obama has launched an advertising assault that’s unprecedented here for its price tag and early start. On Tuesday, Obama parachutes into Iowa for the fourth time this year. He’s erecting a hefty infrastructure here, with 14 offices open now and Iowa’s biggest field organization yet, Democrats say.

Romney campaign optimism in a dead heat race

It’s a fusillade of campaigning in a state that was not high on team Romney’s target list for the general election just a few months ago. After all, Obama won Iowa in 2008 by a decisive 9.54 percentage points. Today, the race in Iowa is too close to call, a rolling average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com shows. When polling showed Obama struggling here, and when his re-election campaign started dumping money and its top stars into the Hawkeye State, the Republican campaign didn’t need any more clues that Iowa is up for grabs. “We know how to hunt where the ducks are,” said Romney political director Rich Beeson. “I feel good about the path to victory in Iowa.” That path has been opened, in part, by voter disappointment in Obama, Romney’s polling found. “We see some of that in other states, but not to that extent,” said Newhouse, Romney’s pollster. “That’s what makes Iowa kind of special — makes it stand out.”

Obama voters  defect over unemployment, healthcare, divisiveness and on and on and on

Last week, The Des Moines Register interviewed 23 Republican and independent Iowa Poll respondents who helped carry Obama in the caucuses and general election in Iowa in 2008. Eighteen of them said they definitely would not vote for Obama this year. One explanation for their dearth of enthusiasm can be summed up by the news on the first Friday morning of each month: the unemployment report. Each lackluster economic report, like the one two days ago that pinpointed the jobless rate unchanged at 8.2 percent, reinforces the sense among Iowans that the country is on the wrong track. But each former Obama voter interviewed by the Register offered a different take on what bugs them.

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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!”

Student Journalists and The Battlegrounds

The Washington Post has launched a neat feature on The 12 Battlegrounds using University students to cover the respective states via a Tumblr account.

Today, The Washington Post launches The 12, aimed at keeping track of campaign issues across swing states. The site is powered by Tumblr and will be populated by student journalists at 12 universities in some of the most competitive 2012 election states.

Using content aggregated from student media outlets and local news sources, the 12 will be a site that leverages Tumblr’s curation tools to feature election news that matters most to voters in battleground states and identify campaign issues that have yet to bubble up to the national conscience.

Why are university Democrats so keyed into the Ohio Senate race between State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)? What impact will Pennsylvania’s fast-growing Hispanic population have in November? And just how many independents are there in North Carolina? These are the types of questions that will be explored in The 12.

The 12 team will also focus on coverage that most affects young voters, who turned out in record numbers [not true] to propel Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 . But it’s unclear whether the under-30 crowd will do the same in 2012.

Despite the inaccuracy of the last sentence which the Washington Post’s own writers debunked, the linked article actually speaks to the comparatively reduced enthusiasm for the President among the youth vote which is why I left it in. The success of this enterprise will rest in the competency of the student journalists but this could be a worthwhile feature to keep an eye on.


Demographics Watch: Youth Vote

Obama’s appeal to the youth vote is often mischaracterized.  He was not able motivate a greater turnout among this demographic, but he was able to disproportionately carry those who did vote 65 – 31 — a whopping 34 point margin. We have previously identified surveys showing both a drop in youth voter preference among some groups as well as reduced enthusiasm overall risking a decreased turnout from recent election levels. Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner identifies the reasons for the change:

  • The unemployment rate of 18-29 year olds reached 12.1 percent in May
  • When you add in those who have given up looking for work, the rate skyrockets to 16.9 percent
  • Among the very young, 16-19 year olds, unemployment is 20.6 percent
  • Among African Americans in that age group the rate is 40.6 percent
  • Among the largest group of younger voters, white millennials, Obama and Romney are nearly tied at 37 to 34 percent. Obama won that group handily by 10 percent in 2008

Note: The Gallup survey linked above found Romney with a +3 point lead among the white youth vote for a -13 point swing for Obama from 2008.

All of the above data speaks to opportunities for the Romney campaign but they will need to make a concerted effort to reach this demographic whose overall support for the President remains similar to 2008 levels.  Efforts like the impressive Crossroads Generations group are great starts (and generally well received) but it would be nice to see something direct from the Romney campaign to capitalize on this persuadable demographic.

Batlleground Quick Hits: Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, $$$$$ and more

Obama Leads by 5 in Virginia — Quinnipiac

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia shows President Obama with a 5-point lead in one of the two most important states in this year’s election. Although a 5-point lead is big news for the President, it is down from the 8-point lead he held in late March. Additionally the largest segment polled were Independents (33% of the total) who also make up a majority of the undecided voters meaning there are many persuadable voters in the Old Dominion state:

 In the first survey since he clinched the GOP nomination, Gov. Mitt Romney now trails President Barack Obama 47 – 42 percent in Virginia, a lead that would not be affected if Gov. Bob McDonnell were the Republican running mate, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Today’s results compare to a 50 – 42 percent Obama lead in a March 20 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, conducted when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul were still in the race for the Republican nomination.

Virginia voters are divided 48 – 47 percent in their approval of the job Obama is doing, and split 49 – 47 percent on whether he deserves a second term in the Oval Office.

“President Barack Obama remains ahead in Virginia, but he is hearing Gov. Mitt Romney’s footsteps,’’ said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Much of the margin erosion appears to come from men with whom Obama had a 3-point lead in March (48 – 45)  that is now a 5-point gap (44 – 49). Among women Obama expands his sizable lead at 51 – 35 versus the March 13-point gap of 52 – 39.

11% of voters were undecided and 66% of the Undecided voters were Independents. But this could break for either candidate: Obama led among Independents 45-37 but a majority of the undecided appear to be white voters with whom Romney leads 53-37:

Romney wins 53 percent of white voters, according to the poll, 7 percentage points off Sen. John McCain‘s pace among these voters when he became the first Republican to lose Virginia since 1964. Obama captures 37 percent of the white vote, roughly equal to the 39 percent he won in 2008, according to exit polls.

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Demographic Watch: Everyone (and None are Good for Obama … Really)

While nearly every post in this blog will be about the Battleground States, when I see something uniquely impacting the election outcome  or on slow Battleground state news days (like today), it’s helpful to see what’s going on underneath some of the national poll numbers. The incomparable Charlie Cook digs down deep into six full weeks of Gallup tracking data and unearths more than a few takeaways that should send shivers down the spines of the over-confident campaign in the Windy City:

Gallup has now finished its first six full weeks of tracking surveys for the 2012 presidential campaign, interviewing 20,565 registered voters. Yes, you guessed it: President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied, 46 percent to 46 percent.  On the surface, the race looks tight. But voter enthusiasm numbers are a headache for the president’s reelection team (emphasis added). This week, Gallup released six full weeks of results. The first half of these were interviews between April 11 and May 6; the second half were from May 7 through May 27.

2008 versus 2012

Although polling was consistent between genders across the two time frames sampled (Romney +8 among men, Obama +7/8 among women), things begin to unravel for the President when you compare these results to his 2008 margins.:

[I]n 2008, the exit polls showed that Obama edged Sen. John McCain by 1 point among men, 49 percent to 48 percent. Among women, he beat McCain by a whopping 13 points, 56 percent to 43 percent.

This is a -9 point swing with men and a -5/6 point swing among women. Those are horrific margin erosions to the President’s re-elect chances.

Independents split down the middle; Romney edged Obama by 1 point in the front half, 43 percent to 42 percent, and by 2 points in the second, 43 percent to 41 percent… [In] 2008 Obama carried the independent vote by 8 percentage points, 52 percent to 44 percent, and the overall election by 7 points.

A -9/10 point swing among Independents. Ouch!

African Americans too?  Yep

Obama is winning the African-American vote by gargantuan proportions: 90 percent to 5 percent in the first half of the survey and 88 percent to 6 percent in the second, not far off his 2008 showing (95 percent to 4 percent).

Wait, “not far”?  I love Charlie Cook but come on. This is a -6 point swing among African Americans.  That is HUGE.

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