While nearly every post in this blog will be about the Battleground States, when I see something uniquely impacting the election outcome or on slow Battleground state news days (like today), it’s helpful to see what’s going on underneath some of the national poll numbers. The incomparable Charlie Cook digs down deep into six full weeks of Gallup tracking data and unearths more than a few takeaways that should send shivers down the spines of the over-confident campaign in the Windy City:
Gallup has now finished its first six full weeks of tracking surveys for the 2012 presidential campaign, interviewing 20,565 registered voters. Yes, you guessed it: President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied, 46 percent to 46 percent. On the surface, the race looks tight. But voter enthusiasm numbers are a headache for the president’s reelection team (emphasis added). This week, Gallup released six full weeks of results. The first half of these were interviews between April 11 and May 6; the second half were from May 7 through May 27.
2008 versus 2012
Although polling was consistent between genders across the two time frames sampled (Romney +8 among men, Obama +7/8 among women), things begin to unravel for the President when you compare these results to his 2008 margins.:
[I]n 2008, the exit polls showed that Obama edged Sen. John McCain by 1 point among men, 49 percent to 48 percent. Among women, he beat McCain by a whopping 13 points, 56 percent to 43 percent.
This is a -9 point swing with men and a -5/6 point swing among women. Those are horrific margin erosions to the President’s re-elect chances.
Independents split down the middle; Romney edged Obama by 1 point in the front half, 43 percent to 42 percent, and by 2 points in the second, 43 percent to 41 percent… [In] 2008 Obama carried the independent vote by 8 percentage points, 52 percent to 44 percent, and the overall election by 7 points.
A -9/10 point swing among Independents. Ouch!
African Americans too? Yep
Obama is winning the African-American vote by gargantuan proportions: 90 percent to 5 percent in the first half of the survey and 88 percent to 6 percent in the second, not far off his 2008 showing (95 percent to 4 percent).
Wait, “not far”? I love Charlie Cook but come on. This is a -6 point swing among African Americans. That is HUGE.
Hispanics and the enthusiasm problem:
Importantly for the Obama campaign, there is some strength among the Hispanic population … at least on the surface. In the Gallup survey Obama’s leads were between 45 and 40 points in this demographic — well above his 36 point outpacing of John McCain in 2008. An approximately +6/7 point swing for Obama, right? Not necessarily. When it came to registering their enthusiasm to vote most groups registered in the high 70s or lows 80s as a likely voter with one exception: Hispanics.
Among Hispanics, though, just 58 percent in the front half and 65 percent in the second half put their propensity to vote at 10 [the highest level of likelihood to vote]. This data suggest that Obama is on track to replicate his performances in terms of support among African Americans and Hispanics. The Hispanic-turnout problem, though, is very real.
Bloom is off the rose with youth vote:
The most striking poll finding was the generational divide among white voters. Among whites 18 to 29, Romney led by 3 points in the first three weeks of interviewing; Obama had a 1-point edge in the second three weeks. Among whites 30 and older, the Romney advantage ballooned to 19 points in the first half and 20 points in the second. But it’s the likelihood of voting that should worry Democrats: 84 and 85 percent of those 30 and older said their likelihood of voting was 10; only 61 and 63 percent of those 18 to 29 indicated 10 (emphasis added).
Cook doesn’t mention the under 30 margin Obama had in 2008 but it was 34 points. Among the white youth vote Obama won by +10 points which makes this both a -13 point swing among the youth vote and a hugely unmotivated Obama voter. Really not good for Team O.
Although Gallup sliced the preferences in various additional ways, for the most part few game changing insights were gleaned: Each candidate is garnering its party’s voters at ~90%, Romney leads with white men by 27 points and among white women by ~6 points. Note: it was Obama’s meaningful appeal to white voters in Colorado that won the state for him. Thus far that would not appear to be the case in 2012.