Political Animal


April 18, 2012 8:54 AM Another Sign of Continuity

By Ed Kilgore

The monthly Pew survey on the presidential contest released yesterday provides some simple and useful data on an underlying reality that is easy to forget in all the trauma of the last three years and all the talk about “the electorate” or “the people” deciding this or that about Barack Obama or his opponents: voters are currently breaking down pretty much as they did in 2008.

In the context of a contest in which Obama is shown as leading Romney by four points (among registered voters), as compared with his seven-point win over John McCain, here are the changes in Obama’s margin from 2008 among basic demographic groups: Men: -5; Women: Even; 18-29: -6; 30-44: -2; 45-64: Even; Over 65: +2; White: -3; Black: +2; Hispanic: +4; >100k: +4; 50-100k: Even; <50k: -13; Republicans: -2; Democrats: +7; Independents: -14.

Among white voters, Obama’s big glaring losses as compared to 2008 are with those earning less than $50,000 (-12) and independents (-18).

Instability among independents is entirely predictable; there’s been a nine-point swing among indies (against Obama) in Pew’s data just in the last month. And the deterioriation of his support among lower-income white voters has been the subject of endless debate.

All in all, the partisan patterns established in 2008 have proved to be impressively durable during the Obama administration.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on April 18, 2012 9:17 AM:

    So that is how it is going to be. We are going to spend the election season endlessly stewing over poll results.

    The electorate hasn't changed that much, so the patterns haven't changed that much. I am shocked.

    The swing voters are in play. That is why we are going to see billions spent on advertizing the next 7 months.

    This election should be a referrendum on Republican obstructionism. This election will turn on the success of the Republican voter suppression effort. They must think those efforts will pay off because, given their attachment to the Ryan Budget, it is pretty clear they have no concerns about walking around with a bag of political toxic waste around their necks.

  • T2 on April 18, 2012 9:22 AM:

    basically, the white people who thought it would be cool to vote for a black president are now in the "been there, done that" category. This includes male independents and young white male Dem leaning voters, and white higher educated male Dem leaning voters. Notice all categories are male. This will be a close election and will hinge on the three groups above, with independents being the most shaky, as the term "independent" is as likely to mean Non-Crazy Republican as it does "Dem, but not really wanting the other people at the Office to know". This election will be about which side of the fence the most men fall on. Obama doesn't have to win a majority of male votes, and he won't. If you have to ask the question of "why can't he", well, you think about it a bit.

  • DAY on April 18, 2012 9:25 AM:

    By its very name "Independents" covers a broad spectrum of voters. Everything from a thoughtful, measured consideration of the issues and the candidates, to "probably won't vote, but if I do, I will make up my mind as a guy outside the polling place hands me a flyer. Or a free pencil. . ."

  • Danp on April 18, 2012 9:26 AM:

    Independents: -14.

    You not only have to worship polls, but trust pollsters more than God to believe this nonsense.

  • zandru on April 18, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Good analysis, Ron Byers!

    @DAY and "Independents": here in New Mexico, "independents" are officially known as "DTS" or "decline to state". They don't get to vote in the primaries, because (DUH!) they aren't attached to any particular party.

    To me, "DTS" (ditz?) is more accurate than "independent." IMHO, the self-proclaimed "independents" are totally "dependent" - they vote for candidates put forth by the other parties, having none of their own.

  • skeptonomist on April 18, 2012 10:25 AM:

    Most of these change numbers are statistically insignificant. And most of what political strategists have been talking about are likewise insignificant. They have no clue about what particular issues or considerations will ultimately decide the election.

  • sparky on April 18, 2012 11:44 AM:

    White males making less than $50,000 heavily favor Romney to represent their interests in the Oval Office. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter. Neither should we underestimate the effects of the upcoming advertising blitz centered around God, guns, homophobia, 'family values', and subtle racism. The white male deographic could very well decide this election and they have a nasty habit of voting against their own economic self interests especially when they go to the polls armed with a set of well fed prejudices.