Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Election Post-Mortem

As the final voting tallies from November 6 roll in, Obama's popular vote lead has grown to about 3.5%, well over 4 million votes.  A few pundits, like Dave Weigel and David Corn, have observed (with glee) that Romney's total percentage will round out to 47%, confirming for posterity that he was the 47% candidate in every possible way.  (This must be especially gratifying for Corn, who published the September 17th story of the Romney 47% video in Mother Jones that crippled his campaign until the first debate, if not permanently.)

The popular vote data has more interesting stories to tell.  Check out this 2008-2012 National Vote Tracker.  A few quick reactions:

  • Maybe it goes without saying, but a lot of swing states weren't nearly as close as expected.  Wisconsin (7pts), Colorado (5.5pts), Iowa (6pts), even Virginia (4pts).
  • Some swing states were not really swing states.  Pennsylvania was clearly going Obama, but Michigan was a total blowout.  A nearly 10pt win for Obama there made Michigan less competitive than Missouri or Georgia.
  • Obama lost Georgia by less than 8pts.  Hello Atlanta.
  • Obama lost once reliably Democratic West Virginia by 27pts.  Goodbye coal country.
  • Nobody lives in Wyoming or North Dakota.
  • Washington D.C.'s vote total went up 10.5% since 2008.
  • Hurricane Sandy effect?: between 2008-2012 the raw vote drop in New York was 17.08% and in New Jersey 8.63%.  Nationally the raw vote dropped 2.94%.


  1. Re: the Hurricane Sandy effect, what about a potential lack of enthusiasm on behalf of Democrats for an Obama second term as an alternate explanation? Do we know anything about the demographics of those whose vote totals went down?

    Another thought: perhaps there was an unusual spike in turnout in 2008, and things are returning more to normal.

    1. AH -- An enthusiasm gap surely has something to do with it, but NY and NJ still saw drops far outside other Democratic stronghold states. The demographics would be interesting to know, but I haven't seen any data.