I’d planned on creating electoral maps by various demographic characteristics today, but to my great disappointment it appears that exit polling was only conducted–or at any rate, recorded–at the state level in select places, unlike in the last few presidential elections for which even far flung and predictable states like Alaska and Hawaii got in on the action.
With that option off the table, a few observations will have to suffice:
– The racial polarity of the two parties continues to become starker. Whites, who comprise three-quarters of the total electorate, only narrowly constituted a majority of Democratic voters this election, with 55% of Obama’s votes coming from non-Hispanic whites and 45% coming from Hispanics and other non-whites. In contrast, whites cast over 89% of Romney’s votes this time around. In 2008, 60% of Obama’s support came from whites and in 2004, 66% of Kerry’s did. If not in 2016 then almost certainly by 2020 the majority of Democratic voters will be non-white.
– While it seems inevitable that non-whites will soon become the majority in the Democratic party, are we justified in confidently asserting that whites will continue to dominate the GOP? After all, young white voters were a key part of Obama’s 2008 coalition, with whites under 30 breaking for him 54%-44%. Putting aside the fact that the answer must be “yes” if for no other reason than non-whites will not vote Republican in under any circumstances, Romney swung the young white vote by an impressive 17 points, winning it 51%-44%, tripling the improvement he was able to boast among whites aged 30 and older.
– The wealthy shifted back to the GOP in 2012 from 2008 in a substantial way. Romney improved over McCain by 16 points among those earning more than $200,000 a year, winning them 54%-44% where McCain had lost them 46%-52%. Among those making under six figures, Obama held his ground, however, ceding only 2 points to Romney relative to McCain in 2008. Obama won the five-figure majority 54%-44% this time around, virtually unchanged from his 55%-43% advantage in 2008.
– The question of whether or not self-described white evangelicals would turn out to support a socially moderate Mormon appears to have been answered in the affirmative. In both 2012 and 2008, they comprised 26% of the total electorate, indicating no dampened enthusiasm relative to other voters this time around. While McCain garnered 73% of this solidly Republican group, Romney did even better, winning 78% of their support.
– In a conversation I had last week, the question of whether or not the Catholic Church’s public opposition to aspects of Obamacare mandating that it include contraception in health care it provided to its beneficiaries would compel Catholics to repudiate Obama was raised. After pointing out that lay Catholics in the US don’t seem to care much one way or the other about what the Church says about anything, I emphasized that Catholicism needs to be separated into two groups, one white and the other Hispanic, if analyzing it is going to tell us anything meaningful. Well, while Romney won among white Catholics 60%-40%, he had his clock cleaned among non-white (read Hispanic) Catholics by a staggering 11%-89% margin. While the latter is extrapolated from exit polling data and consequently might be corrupted to some extent by fitting the exit polling figures to actual vote totals after the returns were in, the fact remains that as the Catholic population becomes increasingly Hispanic, Catholics as a whole will continue to move decisively to the left.
– What characteristic in a president is most important? Among those who answered “shares my values”, “is a strong leader”, or “has a vision for the future”, Romney won by a bit less than a 60%-40% margin. But among the one-fifth of the electorate who answered “cares about people like me”, Obama absolutely crushed it, 81%-18%. Yep, in 21st century America, this is what a leader does to win hearts and minds: