Looking at Romney’s Voting Coalition

The primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire have recently concluded, with Mitt Romney winning both. It’s quite probable now that Romney will be the person facing Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have provided detailed exit polls of the Republican electorate. These paint a good picture of the coalition that Romney is assembling.

Of course, exit polls are notoriously unreliable. If exit polls were trustworthy, President John Kerry would just be completing his second term right now. Any exit poll thus ought to be taken with an enormous grain of salt.

Nevertheless, there are some patterns that are appearing pretty consistently in the exit polls of the Republican primaries. These are large enough to be of some note.


  • Romney’s support increases steadily as a voter’s age increases.

  • Similarly, support for Romney increases steadily as income increases.

  • Very conservative voters are not fans of Romney.

  • Neither are born-again Christians. Which is not to say that their support is nonexistent; plenty of born-again Christians are still voting for Romney.

  • Those with college degrees appear slightly more disposed to voting for Romney.

  • Similarly, so are Catholics.
  • There is one final pattern which the exit polls don’t show, but which also appears consistently in the results: rural voters do not like Romney. He has done the worst in the rural parts of Iowa and New Hampshire. It will be of interest to note whether this pattern prevails in South Carolina.

    Not all of these patterns occurred in the last 2008 Republican primaries. During 2008, for instance, very conservative voters gradually became the strongest supporters of Romney. In fact, while there are great similarities between the voters Romney is winning now and those he won in 2004, there are also substantial differences. These are fascinating enough to be the subject of another, much more detailed, post.

    Nor should one expect all these patterns to hold throughout the primary season. This is particularly true with respect to religion. In 2008 Catholics were more likely than Protestants to vote for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire. In later states such as California and Florida, however, Protestants were more favorable to Romney than Catholics (this was true even counting only white Catholics and white Protestants). Why this is so is somewhat of a mystery.

    There is one very important consideration which has not appeared yet: race. So far, the voters in the 2012 Republican primary have been overwhelmingly white. Asians and blacks do not vote in Republican primaries in numbers large enough to be counted by exit polls. Hispanics, however, do. In 2008 Romney won 14% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, compared to the 31% he took statewide; he failed to break single digits amongst Cubans. It will be very revealing to see whether Romney can do better than that this year.

    Implications for the General Election

    Romney appears to do best in the more traditional wing of the Republican Party. His support is concentrated amongst the wealthier, more urbane voters in the party – the part of the party that is commonly represented by the sophisticated businessman. This, I know, will come as a shock to everybody who has been following politics these past few years.

    During the general election, Romney will probably do well in places filled with people of the above description. These include areas such as suburban Philadelphia and the northern exurbs of Atlanta. He may struggle to raise much excitement amongst the rural evangelical crowd, the red-hot conservatives who in bygone days voted loyally Democratic. Unfortunately for the president, these voters probably loathe Obama more than any other segment of the electorate.

    Probably most useful for a political analyst is the fact that Romney’s support increases in proportion to a voter’s wealth, age, and closeness to a major urban center. These are things about Romney’s coalition which political analysts haven’t known about before (especially the facts about voter income and age).

    It will be interesting to see if Romney’s coalition remains the same throughout the next few primaries, or whether it changes. Indeed, Romney’s coalition is actually somewhat different from the one he assembled in the 2008 Republican primaries. The next few posts will compare the exit polls from those primaries and those from the current primaries.

    They will examine:




    Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

    Estimates put turnout yesterday at above 130 million, a new record, and some reports even pin the turnout at above 64%, which would be the highest since the election of 1908. A look at the exit polls tells the story of the winning coalition that Obama put together to ensure his unprecedented victory.

    Here's how Chuck Todd puts it:

    Obama won African Americans, 95%-4%; Hispanics, 66%-32%; and 18-29 year olds, 66%-32%. But Obama had one extra bit of support that turned a three-legged stool into a four-legged chair: college-educated whites. McCain narrowly beat him here, 51%-47%, which helped reverse a 17-point deficit Kerry had with all whites in 2004 to the 12-point deficit Obama had last night. And it's what helped Obama do so well in suburban counties like the ones above in Pennsylvania or the ones in the I-4 corridor of Florida or the ones in Northern Virginia. That's the difference, folks, between losing an election and winning one.

    Not only did Barack secure the support of these key groups, but turnout among them was up slightly from 2004's levels.

    For example, African-American turnout this year was 13% up from 12% in 2004; and Latino turnout was 9%, up from 8% in 2004. While that may not seem significant, the key was that white voters dropped as a percentage of the entire electorate, from 77% in 04 to 74% this year and even among them Obama outperformed Kerry by 3%.  

    Likewise, not only did the 18-29 demo increase their share of the electorate from 17% to 18% AND tilt far more toward Obama than they did toward Kerry 4 years ago, but their numbers increased dramatically from 4 years ago.

    But this time, young people turned out to vote in droves. An estimated 22 to 24 million young people voted in this election, an increase in youth turnout by at least 2.2 million over 2004, according to CIRCLE.

    Leading MSNBC to posit:

    ...young voters may prove to have been the key to Barack Obama's victory. Young voters preferred Obama over John McCain by 66 percent to 32 percent -- the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976...

    Another key group that fueled Barack Obama's victory last night was that long elusive bloc of unmarried women. Here's Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's analysis of the significance of the unmarried woman vote:

    Last night unmarried women supported Barack Obama by a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin according to calculations based on the Edison/Mitofsky National Election Pool published by CNN. This margin exceeds the support Obama generated among both younger voters and Hispanic voters. Unmarried women similarly supported Democratic House candidates by a 64 to 29 percent margin, matching their progressive support in the 2006 elections.

    In fact looking back at martial status, unmarried women consistently generated large progressive margins, but never as large as we saw last night. In fact, there emerged a 44-point difference in the behavior of married women and unmarried women. If not for the overwhelming support of unmarried women, John McCain would have won the women's vote and with it, the White House.

    Back in March I reported on the uniting of the vast left wing conspiracy to turnout these groups that typically vote for Democrats if they can be turned out in the first place. Last night was truly evidence of the success of that effort.

    Update [2008-11-5 17:59:4 by Todd Beeton]:Paul Krugman breaks down Barack Obama's win quite simply:

    ...basically there was a national wave against Republicans, suggesting that we don’t need a complex narrative.

    There's more...

    America, I appologize for my fellow South Siders

    Oh boy. It seems fairly evident that after today, Rev. Wright's desire for the spotlight is going to become the major problem for the Obama campaign going into the Indiana primary and the North Carolina primary.

    I hope the damage he will do to the Obama campaign will serve as a lesson to Midwestern African-American and Latino communities who have still not learned that racially fueled rage is counterproductive to 'our' economic and social advancement as 13% and approaching 24% of the U.S. population. While this rage it is certainly something that ANYONE who has ever been 'othered' whether that be because of weight, race, accent or disability can relate to, as Wright's big mouth tanking is proving, it doesn't get 'us' anywhere.

    As a native South Sider, I want to apologize to all of the people who put their political faith and volunteer time in the Obama campaign. My fellow South Siders should be going to counseling instead of appearing before the National Press Club.

    Growing up in what is one of the most segregated environs in the U.S., I certainly had my share of harrowing racial experiences, such as having my hair lit on fire in the middle of an English class, simply because of my race. I've been beat up in the basement of the Rock and Roll McDonald's by drunk Chicago Police officers who kicked me until I told them "I'm just another nigger" after they found my college ID in my wallet. Yes, I've had plenty of polarizing experiences but I do not let them define me or my relationships with white people. Grown ups get over things, put them in perspective and move on.

    I left Chicago because I found the demands by my community to be angry and defiant. These demands would end in social isolation if one, as a man of color, didn't conform to this strange social norm: and yes it is strange in present day America. Nearly the entire Midwest is like this.One activist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sara Tibebu even pressed false charges against me, telling police I was going to kidnap her (even though I do not have a car), and tried to get me kicked out of school because I refused to participate in that culture on the UW Madison campus. I was going to a top 50 University, what did I have to be angry about?

    To the rest of my fellow Democrats of all races, I apologize for what this is doing to the party. Those who are the ilk of Rev. Wright, Rev. James Meeks and all the other rage filled creeps are only one, small faction of the Obama coalition. I don't believe Senator Obama, being a transplant, knew how insane these people could be. I mean that sincerely.

    I hope the process of all you angry, angry people in the Midwest - angry as you go to good schools and drive luxury automobiles - totally ruining this thing for Senator Obama will serve as a lesson to all of you about what rage does when it is figured into  into equation for the velocity of hope.

    These rage-filled people have held an iron-fist grip on the world of inner city activism. I hope that after what they did to Obama, this late in the campaign, they are driven from the fold of the Democratic Party forever. They have hurt us as a party for too many years with their counterproductive views mixed with a crabs-in-a-barrel mentality.

    The Clintons' are also at fault for having not purged this cadre back in the 1990's then working to replace them with new leadership.

    Maybe Nader will embrace them, he seems to be into pointless rage these days.

    I am truly embarrassed for my side of the Windy City. Maybe those of us on the left need to stop avoiding the concept of a Black and Latino political class.

    There's more...

    A Sobering Question: Is Obama Electable? [updated]

    Update: Text in the middle of this diary has been edited for clarity

    Barack Obama, "the presumptive nominee" of the Democratic Party, must feel lousy today after losing Pennsylvania by more than 200,000 votes yesterday, despite waging an aggressive and negative  campaign against Hillary Clinton, in which he outspent her 3 to 1.   It's not hard to imagine how much greater Clinton's win would have been had advertising budgets been equalized.

    Democratic strategists and experts, such as George Stephanopoulos, have said that a win of 5 points or less by Clinton in Pennsylvania would have effectively secured the nomination for Obama.  But he was unable to crack Clinton's winning coalition of union households, women, white people,  seniors, blue-collar workers, Catholics, and Jews.  As proven in other states, Hispanics bolster her nationwide coalition even more.

    The results across Pennsylvania were impressive for Senator Clinton:

    According to exit polls, Hillary won voters most concerned about the economy by 16 points (58-42) and union households by 18 points (59-41). She won those with incomes between 100K and 150K by 20 points (60-40); white women by 32 points (66-34) and Catholics by 38 points (69-31). She won those who decided on the last day (59-41), the last three days (58-42) and the last week (54-46). Hillary Clinton press release.

    Additionally, Clinton once again demonstrated her appeal in rural and suburban America, winning nearly all counties across the state.  And her succcess in Pittsburgh serves as a reminder that she too can carry urban areas.

    As expected, Obama held on firmly to his coalition of African Americans and the wealthy (over $150,000 annual income).

    But the AP asks why Obama "can't close the deal."

    The sobering reality is that Obama's coalition is too weak and shallow to win a major cross-section of core Democrats from shore to shore.  Losses in one or two major states would hardly be noteworthy, but accumulated losses over the past 3-and-a-half months starkly reveal a problem for this "frontrunner." California, Texas, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, to name a few, offer classic Democratic demographics .  Surely the super delegates must wonder whether Obama, the most successful presidential fundraiser in history, can assemble a winning Democratic coalition in any of these electorally rich states.

    Also, questions about Obama's character, experience, judgment, and ability to empathize with common folk have increasingly plagued him. Red flags are popping up on a daily basis:

    The company he keeps, as described by conservative commentator Andrew McCarthy is an inconvenient truth.  Obama's ambition and charisma conceal his thin senatorial records, explains Todd Spivak.  His veracity about an assortment of matters, from meeting Nadhmi Auchi to what he actually knew about Rev. Wright's bitter rhetoric, is also problematic.  And Obama's arrogance, most vividly displayed recently when he "flipped off" Hillary Clinton doesn't help his image with average Americans either.  Along the same lines, today David Axelrod audaciously insulted white working class voters by declaring them irrelevant to a Democratic victory.  That dismissive attitude, along with patriotism gaffes, likely explains why 32% of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania told a pollster that they would never vote for Barack Obama. In the words of another writer:

    If he becomes the Democratic Party's nominee for President, Sen. Barack Obama will lose the general election for this reason: When the smiles and platitudes are set aside, Obama's campaign and the philosophy of his cadre amount to one big put-down of America. Source.

    One no longer needs to imagine how the GOP and 527's will attack Obama where he's most vulnerable.  The North Carolina GOP has already unveiled a television ad featuring Rev. Wright's damning of America, as reported today by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic.  Although the ad is short and crude, the devastating potential of similar assaults is indisputable.  You can view it here.

    Obama's narrow delegate lead can be largely attributed  to an effective strategy in caucus states (for which his campaign deserves credit) in addition to a hypnotized mass media.  However, the media is slowing waking up, as ABC News demonstrated in last week's debate.  And legitimate questions have now been raised about whether caucuses accurately reflect the peoples' will (as illustrated most clearly in Texas, where Clinton won the popular vote by more than 100,000 but "lost" the caucuses) and whether caucus irregularities have created an unlevel playing field.

    And speaking of the will of the people, Hillary Clinton now boasts a lead of 123,358 in the popular vote when results from Florida and Michigan primaries are included, according to Real Clear Politics.

    Super delegates probably hoped to avoid the serious task at hand.  But because Obama can't close the deal on his own, their votes will now be determinative. And while General Election polls should be evaluated cautiously at this early date -- indicators of Obama's electability problems are evident.  For example, in Massachusetts, where Obama enjoys the support of Senators Kerry and Kennedy as well as Gov. Patrick, there is disturbing news for Sen. Obama, as reported by The Boston Herald:

    While Hillary Clinton soundly beats McCain in Massachusetts in the new SurveyUSA poll, 56 percent to 41 percent, the Obama/McCain number is 48 percent to 46 percent, well within the margin of error.

    A Democrat struggling here in 2008? An unpopular war, a collapsing housing market and $4 gas - if Britney Spears were running as a Democrat, she'd pull at least 50 percent of the Massachusetts vote.

    John McCain poses another threat to Obama, which is the potential to attract Hispanics, a voting bloc that can make or break a general election candidate. Clinton, on the other hand, has already established her good will among Latinos.

    Obama is inclined to continuously blame Hillary for his election problems. But each candidate must be accountable for his or her weaknesses.  And that is one reason I admire Hillary Clinton.  Not only has she adapted her campaign strategy and structure when necessary, Clinton doesn't take the onslaught of assaults personally.  In fact, I'd guess that her grit and determination in the face of adversity have won over more voters.  Obama, on the other hand, is an incessant whiner, which of course is an unappealing quality in a friend, colleague, or spouse.  But in a general election candidate for President, petulance is a sure recipe for disaster.

    All in all, the super delegates have many factors to consider.  At this stage, they should have a fairly complete picture of each candidate's advantages and disadvantages for the General Election, including their judgment, credentials, and demographic coalitions. It would not be surprising, therefore, if super delegates begin to break towards Clinton as the primary season finally winds down.

    Cross posted at texasdarlin.wordpress.com and hillarysbloggers.com

    There's more...

    Obama supporter/"Clinton hater" returns

    Inspired by Angry Mouse's conversion diary on dkos, I decided to come over to MyDD to see how thing's were going.  I've been gone for a while, which is sad really because MyDD was where I first waded into political waters on the Internet.  But I'm back now, and I felt as though this were a good time to write my first diary here.

    I lurked for over a year here before I decided to join the conversation.  At first, I saw it more as a source of information than anything else.  Finally moved by irritation to speak up, I realized quickly that I had chosen the wrong time to become a vocal part of the community.  Presidential politics stir passions like little else in politics, and trying to make passionate arguments without having the basic etiquette down, and without having some reputation to stand on, was a frustrating experience.  What's more, many of the members and authors I respected the most seemed to be Hillary supporters, and I was most definitely on the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) bandwagon, for reasons that are not particularly relevant to this diary, but it will suffice to say that I was not a big fan of Bill Clinton during his Presidency.

    That experience, along with the overt Clinton support, had me spending less and less time here.  It's not that I feel the need to be surrounded by people who agree with me all the time, but I became more and more interested in participating, and I found it difficult to find my voice in those circumstances.  To the contrary, I'm often considered among the most argumentative personalities on the non-partisan and apolitical message boards and forums I frequent, but the tenor of the discussions in those venues is remarkably different, and I possessed neither the netiquette nor the self-control to discuss Hillary Clinton and her opponents in a constructive manner.

    Then in mid-January, I decided to just stop coming here all together.  I truly could not understand how you all could support her.

    There's more...


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