New Norm or Obamanomaly?November 9th, 2012 by Lee Eldridge
Yes, I am still licking my wounds after predicting a Romney win 52-47. An election I thought would be like 1980 with the challenger Reagan beating Carter, ended up more like 2004 with the vulnerable incumbent Bush beating the unlikable Kerry (old rich white guy from Massachusetts).
I’ve spent a little time reading opinions about the election, but not much. Everyone likes to assign blame. Pundits like to make bold points about the winners and losers. Me? I’m just left with a bunch of questions.
In 2008, Obama won with a strong showing from democrats where they outvoted republicans by seven points (D+7). Those of us skeptical about the polls thought the electorate would reflect something closer to its historical numbers. According to exit polls, here’s how party ID has broken down in recent elections (not including independents):
Even in years where the republicans have done very well, such as 1994 and 2010, party ID is fairly even. I believed that at best the democrats could expect a D+3, which would have won it for Romney. But instead, President Obama wins with an impressive D+6, even though he lost independents by 5 (45/50).
So my question is this: Is this the new normal? Or just an Obamanomaly?
Yesterday, Austan Goolsbee tweeted: “if demogr is the new destiny, are we in for wild 08/10 swings every midterm b/c turnout drops frm 70 to 40 and demo composition shifts?”
I had already decided to write this post before reading Goolsbee’s tweet, but this is the right question to ask. Are we going to continue to see strong showings from democrats in presidential election years on the scale of D+6, and even support for both parties in the mid-term years? If so, don’t be surprised if republicans take the Senate in 2014.
Losing exposes vulnerabilities. And winning masks weaknesses. I’m not sure either party should leap to conclusions about what will happen in future elections.
The Exit Polls
You know I’m a stats geek. Just a few quick thoughts about the exit polls.
Latinos: Obama won with Latinos 71/27. This is a number that the republicans need to take seriously. They can’t lose the Latino vote by such large margins and expect to win national campaigns. The important questions become why did they lose the Latino vote by so much, and what should they do about it? I’m not sure it’s an easy answer.
The War on Women: Much has been made about the war on women. Obama won women by 11 points (55/44). Romney won men by 7 points (52/45). A gender gap exists, but probably not in the way that many of the pundits will explain it to you. Romney won married women (53/46 = almost identical to the “man” vote), but lost single women (31/67). Married women voted on the economy. Single women did not. The big gap wasn’t between men and women, but between married and unmarried women.
The Young Vote: Obama won 18-29 year old voters 60/37 which accounted for a margin of 5.1 million votes. Romney won the 30+ age group by 1.8 million votes. Obama won the election by about 2.5 million votes. Which means that kids in their 20s with little life experience picked the president. (No offense to kids in their 20s. I was there once upon a time, and thought I knew everything, too.)
The White Vote: You probably already know that whites overwhelmingly voted for Romney (59/39). What this stat doesn’t tell you is that millions of whites who voted in 2008 chose not to vote in this election. Whites who voted for Obama stayed home. Whites who voted for McCain stayed home. The republicans thought they had enthusiasm on their side. They did not.
Read more about exit polls here on CNN.