Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vanishing whites contributed to Romney blues

We all know that whites made up a smaller percentage of voters on Tuesday than ever before and that's both predictable and understandable, considering demographic patterns. 

But Sean Trende points out the really surprising thing -- fewer whites, as a number, came out to vote in 2012 than in 2008. For whatever reason, a decent chunk of whites who voted in 2008 didn't vote on Tuesday, contributing even further to Romney's woes.

Trende speculates on one possible reason by pointing to Ohio.

My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well.

The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

....in terms of interpreting elections, and analyzing the future, the substantial drop-off in the white vote is a significant data point.

Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party).