Greg's Opinion Greg's big blog of whatnot

21Apr/120

Turnout vs Change of Mind, continued …

» National Journal: Familiar Divisions Give Obama Narrow Edge (Ron Brownstein)

A classic case about why its important to understand the difference between performance - or the level of support within a part of the electorate - and the vote share of the subgroup. Brownstein captures three disparate polling results and highlights how the different vote shares lead to different results despite the performance among white and non-white being similar to 2008.

The surveys-from ABC and the Washington Post; the Pew Research Center; CNN/ORC; and the first Gallup tracking poll, diverge in their overall results. The first three polls show Obama leading by seven, four and nine percentage points respectively; the first Gallup track placed Romney up by two percentage points.

But the Gallup track, which is conducted among registered voters, has a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012: only 22 percent of the Gallup survey was non-white, according to figures the organization provided to Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. That was close to the non-white share of the vote in 2010 (23 percent), but in 2008, minorities comprised 26 percent of all voters, according to exit polls; the Obama campaign, and other analysts, project the minority share of the vote will increase to 28 percent in 2012. In its survey, Pew, for instance, puts the non-white share at 25 percent.

The division between the white and non-white share of the vote profoundly affects the results because all of the surveys show a racial gap between Obama and Romney that could be at least as large as 2008.

There's obviously a lot of innings to play between now and November. But, to me, hte biggest determinant of the outcome isn't going to be who changes their mind about which candidate to support, so much as it will be who changes their mind about voting or not voting. All that to suggest that I anticipate things being closer than they were in 2008 and how that closeness impacts swing states makes the difference. Or, if you prefer ... in 2008, the swing states were Obama states - in 2012, they revert to Kerry v Bush tossup status. Predict at your own peril this far out.

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