Demographics Of Election 2012 – Behind The Numbers (Part I)

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Now that the 2012 National Election is history (the delayed final call in Florida notwithstanding), our political parties—especially the Republicans—will be deconstructing their campaign strategies and trying to find out where—and why—they went wrong and what worked (or didn’t) at the top of the ticket (the presidential race) and in congressional races—on down to state gubernatorial and state legislature races and even ballot initiatives. In the afterglow of the Obama reelection and victory in expanding their Senate majority, the Democrats will be tinkering and refining; while the Republicans will be—if they are smart—going for a complete makeover.

For the Republican Party, there will be plenty of blame and recriminations to go around. Was it that their candidates weren’t ‘conservative enough?’ Was it that their message simply didn’t resonate? Was it Mother Nature, in the form of Hurricane Sandy…and/or that New Jersey perceived ‘turn-coat,’ Governor Chris Cristie embraced the President as a caring, competent leader? Mega-rich donor Super PAC advertising didn’t do it. Changing voter registration and voting laws didn’t do it. Voter suppression, intimidation and ‘looong’ lines to vote didn’t do it. And, the most cynically racist, fact-challenged campaign in modern history didn’t do it.

A few days before the election I offered my assessment and top ten reasons: “Why America Will Tell Mitt Romney ‘No Sale…’; but underlying many of those reasons is a much larger one…DEMOGRAPHICS. Demographics is the “current statistical characteristics of a population,” and is the related application of Demography, which is “the statistical study of living populations and sub-populations.” In essence, it entails the continuous crunching of numbers and changes in the population as “demos” is Greek for ‘the common people; the populace.’

Here are some key demographic models which have emerged from the 2012 Presidential Election. These figures are culled from a variety of sources, which include exit polls of voters throughout the nation. We have all heard those on the right challenge the bias and accuracy of the polling done during the campaign. We have also seen how very accurate most of them turned out—like Nate Silver’s predictions—so, while some election data is empirical or scientific—based on pure math—such as the number of voters; their age, gender and ethnicity…how they actually voted is less determinitive, since we vote by secret ballot.

Therefore, much of the data evolves from what voters tell exit-pollsters about who they actually voted for and why. (Please note: figures do not always total 100% as not all data is complete, some figures are rounded, and some voters voted for third party candidates or declined to state a preference.)

Electorate (by Gender):             Women: (54%)      Men:  (46%)

For Barack Obama                                55%                       46%

For Mitt Romney                                  44%                       53%


Electorate (by Race)                    2008 Election       2012 Election

White Voters                                         74%                        72%

African-American Voters                        13%                        13%

Hispanic Voters                                       9%                        10%

Other (e.g. Asian, Pacific Islander)           5%                          5%


Candidates                                  Barack Obama      Mitt Romney

White Voters                                          39%                        59%

African –American Voters                        93%                          6%

Hispanic Voters                                       71%                        27%

Other (e.g. Asian, Pacific Islander)            73%                        26%


Electorate (Marital Status):         Barack Obama      Mitt Romney

Unmarried Women                                   67%                       31%

Unmarried Men                                        56%                       40%

Married Women                                       46%                       53%

Married Men                                            38%                       60%


Electorate (Age)                            Barack Obama       Mitt Romney

18-29 (19%)                                            60%                       37%

30-44 (27%)                                            52%                       45%

45-64 (38%)                                            47%                       51%

65 & Older (16%)                                    44%                       56%


2012 presidential election exit polls and analysis

What is clear—thus far—is that we have seen substantial changes in voter registration, participation and population shifts—all which go into the demographic determinations that factor into polling, campaign strategies and election outcomes. In Part II, I will analyze some of these trends and their impact on the 2012 Election and politics in America moving forward.

Among sources reviewed/used/cited: (1972-2008 Elections); (Race & Gender); (Race); (Gender); (Age); (prior elections); (voter registration)