Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Romney Lost: The White Voter Stayed Home

This election was a real head scratcher. It certainly seemed as if Romney generated more enthusiasm than McCain, but Romney may not receive as many votes as McCain did in 2008. Of course Obama will not receive anywhere near as many votes as he did in 2008. In 2008, 131 million people cast votes. In 2012, I am estimating about 125 million people will cast votes. Here is a breakdown of the electorate the past two years:


This means the minority vote went up by 2.5 million (Hispanics by nearly 15% and over 7% total) while the White vote went down by 6.7 million (7%). If we account for population growth the increase in minority vote was still higher than expected, but the White vote should have increased by an additional 1 to 1.5 million voters. Hence, we can estimate about 8 million White voters stayed at home. If 8 million more White people voted than Romney would have gained about 1.5 million more votes on Obama. This would have changed the electoral makeup from 72% White and 28% non-White to 74% White and 26% non-White. I am not saying this would have changed the election, because Obama may still end up winning the popular vote by 4 million votes (3%). And even if this White vote turned up in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida which changed the outcome of these states (a difference of fewer than 300,000 votes [1.5% of the electorate] could have changed all three of these states from Blue to Red), Romney still would have lost the Electoral College 271 to 266. I do not think anything would have changed the outcome in CO, NV, IA, NH, PA, WI, MI, or MN (the closest state was decided by nearly 5%). How can we account for this drastic change in the electorate?

Hurricane Sandy probably accounted for 1 million fewer votes in NY and NJ. However, these voters would have been diverse and the white vote would have been less than 60%. Of course Obama would have won this vote 60% to 40%.

It is estimated that turnout was down in some very conservative and liberal states such TX and VT respectively. Why? Many people may think there vote does not count as much as in battleground states since the outcome of their states are already a forgone conclusion.

According to an article by Sean Trende, he examined voter turnout in Ohio counties and found counties with predominately high white populations and high unemployment saw much lower turnout. He theorizes that these voters where obviously not happy with Obama, but the negative ads on Romney may have worked. These people were not going to be happy voting for a wealthy capitalist. It certainly makes sense that the negative aspect of the campaign as well as the poor economy turned off voters.

The bottom line is that Republicans did not turn out a big portion of the electorate which favors them. This only exasperates the problem of their shrinking electorate as minorities continue to make up a bigger portion of the vote. This is a serious issue and they will be wise to figure out why so many White voters stayed at home. Elections are won by turning out your base vote, and Romney did not do this. I am still mystified he may not get as many votes as McCain. One reason for this was more support for 3rd Party candidates, but still. This is a real head scratcher.

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