No Mandate: Obama Lost Ground With Key Demographics

Posted: Nov 07, 2012 12:44 PM
There are important lessons to be learned from the results of the 2012 presidential election about the shape of the electorate and how Americans voted. And it might not be what you think.

Overall, many, many fewer Americans turned out to vote. 2008 was a high-water mark for turnout in what may have been an anomaly. President Obama received seven million fewer votes nationwide, but it wasn't a case of the President losing voters to his Republican challenger - Mitt Romney won more than one million fewer votes than John McCain as well.

Some of the much-vaunted demographic advantages that President Obama held in 2008 shrunk. He lost ground to Mitt Romney among traditionally democratic groups. Youth voters swung back towards Romney. (Though Obama still held a historically-large advantage there.) Catholics were at a historic high for Democrats in 2008, but they voted for Obama with roughly the same split they voted for Al Gore this time around. Jewish voters went more heavily for Mitt Romney.

To an extent, we have to recognize a truth: President Obama is a candidate who has uniquely transcendent appeal. He's a very good orator who resonates emotionally with his base. Conservatives settled on Mitt Romney, a man that many had to hold their nose to vote for.

What is of possible concern - and Guy mentioned this earlier - is that, while Obama held steady or lost among most demographic groups, he gained among Hispanic voters.

Obama’s support increased with Hispanic voters: he won 69 percent of the demographic, compared with 29 percent for Romney. That 40-point deficit is slightly higher than his 36-point victory among Hispanic voters in 2008.

The mainstream media thinks this means Republicans will have no choice but to adopt a positive agenda on immigration reform. Whether or not this means a George W. Bush style plan that allows for some forgiveness for illegal immigrants is up in the air. Chuck Todd speculated on MSNBC this morning that some form of "immigration reform" would pass in the Senate with 80-90 votes.

It's too early for consternation. As Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out, this wasn't about the kind of candidate Republicans ran. Moderate Republicans like Scott Brown lost and solid conservatives like Allen West lost. Beware the finger-pointing, especially this early.