Why Romney was the first US Presidential candidate to decisively win independents and still lose the election
Here's an interesting blog post by Glen Bolger, who was the pollster for the Romney campaign
. He writes that Romney was the first candidate ever in the US to decisively win independent voters and still lose the election. Bolger argues that's because Romney did so poorly on the Hispanic vote (according to Bolger, the fact that blacks would vote overwhelmingly for Obama was a given - the problem was that the Republicans were also blown out on the Hispanic vote). And here's the craziest part: Only 10% of Hispanics went to the polls....
The exit pollsters asked which was the most important candidate
quality – vision for the future (29%), shares my values (27%), cares
about people like me (21%), and strong leader (18%).
Mitt Romney won three of the four qualities. Voters who selected
vision opted for Romney 54%-45%. Those who picked values preferred
Romney 55%-42%. Voters focused on strong leadership opted for Romney
61%-38%. Romney lost 18%-81% among voters who said “cares about people
like me” to Barack Obama.
Thus, Romney controlled leadership, vision, and values, yet still
lost, because he got blown out on the empathy dimension. This may well
have been the first Presidential election where the winner on leadership
lost the election anyhow. Prior to the election, if you had said that
Romney would win among the 74% of voters choosing those three qualities
and would still lose overall, you would not have been believed.
Also, asked which of four was the most important issue, an
overwhelming 59% picked the economy. Romney won those voters 51%-47%.
Thus, he won the most important issue, but still lost the election.
But the demographics are even more concerning for the GOP down the
road. Here are some of the stunning demographic findings from the exit
polls about the Presidential election:
✓ Mitt Romney won Independents by five points. That’s better than
George W. Bush in 2004 by six net points (see more on that below).
✓ Mitt Romney won middle income voters ($50-100k) by six points.
George W. Bush won them by twelve points in 2004, but there were far
fewer voters earning more than $100k in the 2004 election (18%) than in
✓ Mitt Romney won white women by 56%-42% (the “war on women” is
overstated; Romney got crushed with minority women but a fourteen point
win is not exactly a decisive defeat with white women).
George W. Bush won white women by eleven points in 2004, a net three points weaker than Romney.
✓ Mitt Romney won white voters by 59%-39%, which is better than George W. Bush in 2004 by three net points.
✓ Mitt Romney won voters age 40+ by five points. There is no direct
comparison to Bush in 2004, but Bush did win voters 45+ by five points.
So, Romney won many of the groups that are generally considered to be
the ones to decide elections – Independents, white women (by double
digits), middle income, and voters age 40+.
Mitt Romney put together a
coalition that just eight years ago would have won the presidential
election (hence the data comparisons to George W. Bush). However,
instead of whites being 77% of the electorate, they were 72% of the
electorate. Instead of Republicans and Democrats being equal, Democrats
far outnumbered Republicans, and washed out Romney’s advantage among
Independents. Bush kept it close with younger voters (under age 40),
while Obama won them decisively.
Underscoring that there are considerably more Democrats than
Republicans, Romney was the first national candidate in exit polling
history to decisively win Independents and lose the election (John Kerry
won Independents, but by just one point).
So, if you win the swing groups but lose the election, that means the
Democrats have a clear home field advantage. There are more Democrats.
That underscores that we have to do better as a party with Hispanics.
It will be hard to push white voter support for Democrats lower than
39% (which is all Obama got). Thus, to have a chance, Republicans have
to appeal to Hispanics.
The guy at the top of this post may be the best possible appeal to Hispanics. Hmmm.
It’s simple math, but it’s hard to do. We have to start today.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Campaign 2012, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, US presidential campaign 2016