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.
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  • Similarly, support for Romney increases steadily as income increases.
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  • Very conservative voters are not fans of Romney.
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  • 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.
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  • Those with college degrees appear slightly more disposed to voting for Romney.
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  • 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:

    Iowa

    --inoljt

     

    Analyzing the 2010 Utah Senate and Gubernatorial Elections

    This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze some interesting tidbits of the 2010 Utah Senate and Gubernatorial elections. Specifically it will look at some hints of increasing Democratic strength in this blood-red state.

    (Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

    Salt Lake County, 2004

    Utah is commonly considered as one of the most conservative states in America, and for good reason; Democrats are essentially nonexistent in the state. Some Southern states will occasionally vote (or used to occasionally vote) for a conservative Democrat. Not Utah; its Republicans are rock-hard Republicans.

    Here is how Utah looked like in the 2004 presidential election:

    President George W. Bush dominated the state; he got almost three times as many votes as Senator John Kerry did. Bush did quite well in the mountainous west of the United States; normally Utah is still very Republican, but not quite this much.

    Take a look at Salt Lake County, the most populous part of the state. Almost four in ten voters in 2004 lived in Salt Lake County.

    Bush got a pretty powerful number of votes from the area, taking 59.4% of the vote. The margin wasn’t quite as good as elsewhere in the state (where he won more than 71.4% of the vote); the rest of Utah was much more conservative than Salt Lake County in 2004. Nevertheless, Bush had no reason to complain; getting three-fifths of the vote in a major metropolitan area is something Republicans rarely do.

    Salt Lake County, 2008

    In 2008 Senator Barack Obama did much better than Senator John Kerry in 2004. Naturally he also did better in Utah. Indeed, Utah moved quite a bit more to the left in 2008 than the rest of the nation.

    Nevertheless, Republican Senator John McCain still won a very comfortable victory in this very conservative state:

    Nevertheless, Republican Senator John McCain still won a very comfortable victory in this very conservative state:

    The most noticeable difference here is what happened to Salt Lake County; the county turned from a Republican fortress into Obama territory. Republicans fell from 59.4% of the vote to 48.1% of the vote. Salt Lake County’s enormous shift Democratic accounted for much of Obama’s improvement in Utah.

    Salt Lake County, 2010

    It’s the 2010 midterm elections where things get really interesting. 2010 was the best Republican year in a generation; Republicans won up and down the map. Democratic areas turned Republican; Republican areas turned blood-red.

    In a situation such as this, one would expect Salt Lake County to revert back to its strongly Republican voting patterns in 2004 (or vote even more Republican, given that 2010 was a more Republican year than 2004).

    In fact, this is very much what didn’t happen. Let’s take a look at the two most important statewide Utah elections in 2010.

    Here is the 2010 Utah gubernatorial election:

    Republican candidate Gary Herbert took a bare majority – 51.0% of the vote – of Salt Lake County.

    Republicans did even worse in the statewide senate election:

    Republican candidate Mike Lee got 49.0% of the vote in the county; he failed to win a majority of voters.

    All in all, it seems that things are moving the Democrat’s way in the most populous county of Utah.

    There is also something else very interesting about Utah: the state moved very little to the right in 2010, despite the huge Republican wave. Republican candidates didn’t win more than 70% of the vote in 2010, unlike Bush in 2004. Their performance was very similar to that of McCain’s. The Senate race is particularly remarkable; Senator Mike Lee only improved 0.8% upon McCain’s performance, despite a double-digit shift in the national vote towards the Republican Party.

    Conclusions

    It’s always hard-to-say that a particular area is trending one way or another. Salt Lake County moved strongly leftwards in 2008, and resisted the 2010 Republican wave. One the other hand, Republicans have lost Salt Lake County in the past (although very rarely while winning more than 60% of the vote). One could argue that this phenomenon is not anything really new, although I am less than convinced.

    The evidence is less strong that Utah as a whole is shifting Democratic. While the state as a whole also resisted the 2010 Republican wave, one could argue that Bush overperformed. Republicans have often in the past won Utah with around 60-65% of the vote; on the other hand, they have relatively rarely taken more than 70% of the vote in the state. The evidence is more mixed that Utah as a whole is trending Democratic, compared to the evidence that Salt Lake County is trending Democratic.

    What does this all mean?

    Probably very little. Even if Democrats regularly won Salt Lake County by double-digits, Utah would still be a solidly Republican state. Democrats would still lose statewide elections. They might regularly be guaranteed a Democratic congressman from Utah coming from Salt Lake City, but on the other hand Republicans could still fairly easily gerrymander the state so that they controlled all the seats. And Democrats already improbably hold a seat in Utah, so in real life they would actually gain no seats in Utah.

    All in all, a Utah in which Republicans went from winning by 30 points to winning by 15 points would still be pretty impossible for Democrats do win.

    But it does say something about the state of American politics when Republicans are having trouble winning an urban city in the most conservative part of America.

    --inoljt

     

     

    Comparing Obama in 2007 and the Current Republican Presidential Field

    By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

    The Republican presidential field is nearly complete. There is a possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry might enter the field. Other than that, however, its pretty probable that the 2012 Republican nominee will be one of the current Republican candidates running.

    The Republican presidential field has been criticized as weak, lacking a charismatic candidate. It’s hard to tell how valid this criticism really is; after all, if a Republican wins in 2012 nobody will remember what people are saying today. Many Republicans take heart by comparing their current field to the 1992 Democratic field, which was also criticized as extremely weak. That field, of course, turned out have the best politician in a generation.

    One way to evaluate the strength of the Republican candidates is by comparing them to Senator Barack Obama in 2007. I’ve recently, somewhat on a whim, come upon a video of Mr. Obama during that time. It’s an interview on The Daily Show, back during the days when Mr. Obama was trailing Senator Hillary Clinton badly.

    I highly encourage anybody interested in the 2012 presidential election to watch this video. It’s very interesting to see Mr. Obama back then, not as the president, but rather as just another merely ambitious senator.

    Watching the interview, it does seem that Mr. Obama is a better politician than the current Republicans running for president – especially front-runner Mitt Romney. He sounds intelligent and quite thoughtful. Of course, this is very subjective; Republicans will probably disagree with this viewpoint, Democrats will wholeheartedly support it.

    Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Mr. Obama does obviously outdo his Republican opposition – a thing which can be measured objectively. This is that he inspired much more passion in 2007 than any of the Republican candidates currently running. When Mr. Obama walks into the room, the crowd roars in excitement. Some supporters yell, “Barack, Barack.” Host Jon Stewart then starts the interview by noting:

    You…The effect you have on a crowd, it is, it’s unusual for a politician. You do have…there is a certain inspiration quality to you.

    It’s difficult to imagine anything similar happening with any Republican candidate currently running. People do not yell “Michele, Michele” during Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s interviews.

    This is one advantage that President Barack Obama seems to have; even in 2010, on the eve of massive Democratic losses, Mr. Obama was able to draw crowds of 35,000 to his rallies.

    Republicans will gleefully point out that they won anyways, and that passion alone does not win elections. There is a lot of truth to this; one passionate voter is worth the same as one voter who could care less.

    But at the very least, it is better to have passionate supporters than not to have them.

     

    Comparing Obama in 2007 and the Current Republican Presidential Field

    By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

    The Republican presidential field is nearly complete. There is a possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry might enter the field. Other than that, however, its pretty probable that the 2012 Republican nominee will be one of the current Republican candidates running.

    The Republican presidential field has been criticized as weak, lacking a charismatic candidate. It’s hard to tell how valid this criticism really is; after all, if a Republican wins in 2012 nobody will remember what people are saying today. Many Republicans take heart by comparing their current field to the 1992 Democratic field, which was also criticized as extremely weak. That field, of course, turned out have the best politician in a generation.

    One way to evaluate the strength of the Republican candidates is by comparing them to Senator Barack Obama in 2007. I’ve recently, somewhat on a whim, come upon a video of Mr. Obama during that time. It’s an interview on The Daily Show, back during the days when Mr. Obama was trailing Senator Hillary Clinton badly.

    I highly encourage anybody interested in the 2012 presidential election to watch this video. It’s very interesting to see Mr. Obama back then, not as the president, but rather as just another merely ambitious senator.

    Watching the interview, it does seem that Mr. Obama is a better politician than the current Republicans running for president – especially front-runner Mitt Romney. He sounds intelligent and quite thoughtful. Of course, this is very subjective; Republicans will probably disagree with this viewpoint, Democrats will wholeheartedly support it.

    Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Mr. Obama does obviously outdo his Republican opposition – a thing which can be measured objectively. This is that he inspired much more passion in 2007 than any of the Republican candidates currently running. When Mr. Obama walks into the room, the crowd roars in excitement. Some supporters yell, “Barack, Barack.” Host Jon Stewart then starts the interview by noting:

    You…The effect you have on a crowd, it is, it’s unusual for a politician. You do have…there is a certain inspiration quality to you.

    It’s difficult to imagine anything similar happening with any Republican candidate currently running. People do not yell “Michele, Michele” during Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s interviews.

    This is one advantage that President Barack Obama seems to have; even in 2010, on the eve of massive Democratic losses, Mr. Obama was able to draw crowds of 35,000 to his rallies.

    Republicans will gleefully point out that they won anyways, and that passion alone does not win elections. There is a lot of truth to this; one passionate voter is worth the same as one voter who could care less.

    But at the very least, it is better to have passionate supporters than not to have them.

     

    What Elections Would Look Like in a Mexico-United States Union

    This is part of a series of posts examining, somewhat lightheartedly, the electoral effects of adding Canada and then Mexico to the United States.

    (Note: This post was written for serious political analysis along with it. It is not meant to offend, and sincere apologies are offered if any offense at all is taken. I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

    The previous post noted that if Mexico joined the United States, and if Mexico voted for the Democratic Party, then the Democratic Party would at first glance seem benefit very much indeed. President George W. Bush would have win Delaware to become president. Double-digit Republican victories would turn into ties.

    But this assumes that American voting patterns remain unchanged if the United States joined Mexico.

    Imagine how the typical American would react to the last six words in the sentence above, and one can begin to see why that assumption is probably extremely inaccurate.

    If the United States were to join Canada, the result would probably be fairly free of friction. The United States and Canada have very similar or the same cultures, histories, income levels, languages and ethnicities. It is impossible to tell a Canadian and an American apart.

    None of this is true regarding Mexico and the United States. Mexicans and Americans are truly separate peoples to an extent Canadians and Americans are not. Their cultures, histories, income levels, languages, and ethnicities are different. It is not hard to tell a Mexican and an American apart.

    For these reasons, it is pretty simple to predict voting patterns in a union of Mexico and the United States. The typical election would probably look like this:

     

    Link to Image of Typical Election in Mexican-American Union

     

    Adding the United States to Mexico would probably spark an enormous racial backlash amongst Americans. The effect would be similar to that of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the South. This might not be confined merely to whites; if there is one way to break the Democratic Party’s lock on the black vote, adding the United States to Mexico might be it. Elections would come to resemble those which happen in Mississippi today: everybody from Mexico would vote one way, everybody from the United States would vote another.

    This is not just a guess. Many countries today experience similar problems, where two different peoples happen to share the same borders. Tribal voting often happens in Africa, due to its colonial history. Another example is Ukraine, which has an enormous east-west divide. People in the west are Ukrainians, who speak Ukrainian and want to join NATO. People in the east are Russians, who speak Russian and want to re-create the Soviet Union. It’s not pretty:

     

    Link to Image of 2004 Ukrainian Election

     

     

    It’s not very hard to imagine a similar electoral dynamic playing out in an American-Mexican union.

    --Inoljt

     

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