Thursday, June 20, 2013

Republicans and Women, Youth, and Latinos

Sean Trende looks at the missing White voter today. It’s a great read and runs counter to conventional wisdom. It reminded me of an LA Times story on Sunday, June 9.
After women, young voters and Latinos fled from the Republican Party in droves in 2012, some GOP leaders thought they had a chance to turn things around.

It made me wonder if women, young voters and Latinos did indeed feel from the Republican party, in droves or otherwise, in 2012. In order to determine whether these voters were leaving the Republican party, I decided to compare the 2012 vote totals for Mitt Romney and the Republicans in the House to 2008 and see if the numbers increased or decreased. I used 2008, because that was the last Presidential election.

Why 2008, instead of 2010? The House Republicans got 44,593,666 votes in their triumphant 2010 campaign. They got 58,284,884 in their less successful 2012 campaign. No matter how bad a party does, they always add in all demographics in mid-terms.

What about 2004? It’s true that Mitt Romney did get about 1 million less votes than George W. Bush, but John McCain got 2 million less votes. So those voters left the Republican Party in 2008. The LA Times didn’t state people left the Republican party in 2008 and really why would that be relevant this year?

I looked at exit polls and applied them to the 2008 and 2012 vote totals. Exit polls are inexact but they can provide rough totals. I had to massage the numbers a little to fit them in with the exact totals. Unfortunately, there were no national House exit polls in 2012, but I was able to estimate the vote totals using the Presidential exit poll. Congressional Democrats did about 2% less than Barack Obama, while congressional Republicans did about 1% better than Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney did indeed get less female votes than John McCain. Barack Obama lost more than double the number of votes. Congressional Republicans increased their vote total among women by 2.1 million, while congressional Democrats lost a little less than a million female votes. It’s hard to conclude that Republicans are losing the female voters they had in 2008.

One of the problems with looking at voters by age is that age isn’t constant. The 2008 Young voters, age 18-29, were 22-33 in 2012. Unfortunately, the exit polls aren’t broken down so that we can analyze that group to see if there was a decline. It’s arguable that the when looking at young voters you should keep the age constant. Young voters are always 18-29.

Both Romney and the House Republicans gained with the 18-29 group. Some of that was with the 18-21 group. Even if most of their gains were with this group, that’s a positive sign Republicans are gaining, not losing, with the youth vote.

Interestingly, both Mitt Romney and House Republicans lost votes with the 30-44 segment. Romney actually lost more votes with this age group than Obama did. House Democrats lost a lot more votes than House Republicans, however.

Trende talks about the missing White voter. Below I calculate how many White voters dropped from 2008 to 2012, but Trende correctly points out that due to population increases, the number is actually higher.

From looking at these numbers, we don’t see Latinos fleeing Republicans. Romney likely got a similar number of Latino votes and House Republicans likely saw a 21% jump. In fact, Republicans likely gained voters in each ethnic group. House Republicans likely grew their Black vote by 46%.

President Obama, and Democrats to a lesser extent, likely drew a lot of new Latinos to the polls, although they did dramatically worse with Whites. Some White Obama/Democratic supporters stayed home and others fled to the GOP.

It doesn’t appear that women, young voters and Latinos fled Republicans at all. Overall, Mitt Romney lost and House Republicans drew fewer votes than House Democrats. But considering where they cratered in 2008, they appear Republicans to have done a good job of picking up women and young voters, while Democrats struggled and lost these voters.

If there’s a trend here, it favors Republicans. If the GOP were to improve on 2012 the way they did on 2008, they’ll close the Presidential gap and win the House vote. Trende points out that the missing voters favor Republicans. If the GOP can get these people to the polls, they’ll outweigh any increases in the Latino or Asian/other vote.

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