2/25/2012

Slaying the Boogeyman


Part One: Silly Numbers

The bogeyman among right leaning voters reinforced by the left leaning media is that President Obama is so popular and the GOP candidates are so unappealing that come November our heroic young President, Osama slayer his own self, will rise from the ashes of the economic disaster he is presiding over and beat his inept challenger, whoever it is, at the polls. I say nonsense and I am going to do a few posts to show you why Obama is not only on thin ice, the ice is cracked, the sun is out and it won't set until he is defeated in November.

Things can change, things can always change. But despite the Left's hype and the Right's fear there is, as things stand now, very little chance that Barack Obama will be reelected. Let's look at some facts, across the spectrum of what really matters electorally.

 The easiest way to do this is to look at the most recent elections and see how things look now. Though it may seem longer, it was only four years ago that the last Presidential election took place so as far as the make up of the electorate is concerned things have not changed all that much, and where it has it has gone against Obama being reelected.

The Census has changed the Electoral College vote It is often mentioned that if the 2008 election were repeated today, because of census reapportionment, Obama would  receive six less electoral votes. While this is not a significant number considering how many electoral votes he won 365-173 in 2008, if the election is close it could make a big difference. Remember 2000?

In 2000 Bush eked out an electoral win 271-267 over Gore. That same electoral map with the 2010 reapportionment would be 285-253. in other words Bush could have stolen even more with the same effort. The 2004 election which Bush won 286-251 today would be 296-242. To show how important this could be consider this, the Republican candidate could loose Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, all states Bush won in 2004 and still win the election.

Turnout matters. To win a national election, especially a close one, turning out "the base" really matters. To give you an idea of how important this is in 2004 the voters were equally split between the parties, 37% of voters were Republican and 37% were Democrats with 26% Independents. Compare that to 2008 when the electorate was 32% Republican and 39% Democrats with 29% Independents.

In both elections 89% of Democrats voted for their party's candidates and 93% of Republicans voted for their party's candidate. But obviously 89% of 39% of the voters is far more than 93% of 32% of the voters. What did this turn out difference mean? Far more than you would think.  Probably more important than Obama's advantage with the Independents was the low turn out of Republicans. Not since 1980 when Reagan changed everything by not only beating Carter but doing it with only 28% Republican participation, not since then has the Republican Party failed to have at least 35% voter participation in a presidential election. Even with Perot in 92 and 96 even with the "hanging chad" thriller in 2000 not once had Republicans cast less than 35% of the vote, until 2008. That little know and hardly mentioned detail was also an historic consequence of the 2008 election.

Since all that we have is the exit polling and total votes what follow can not not be precise but it is  close enough to show how important turn out can be.

Considering the turn out difference I have pointed to above which gave Obama approximately 1.9 million more votes than if the turn out and vote ratio was the same as it was in 2004 and McCain received approximately 4.3 million less votes than if the turn out and vote ratio was the same as it was in 2004. A staggering 6.2 million vote difference. The number of Independents who voted for Obama over McCain was 3.1 million, So the turn out of base was twice as important as the difference in Independent's preference. To put it in actual numbers here is what the vote would have been in 2008 with the 2004 turnout ratio applied

2008 Total votes cast 131,239,456

2008 Election using 2004 percentages

Obama
89%  Democrats-       43,217,003
6%   Republicans -      2,913,506
50% Independents-    17,061,010

Total Obama using 2004 percentages 63,191,579

McCain
11% Democrats-        5,341,427
93% Republicans-    45,159,340
48% Independents-  16,378,621

Total McCain using 2004 percentages 66,879,394

McCain would have won by almost 3.7 million votes.

Since the Independents are considered such a big factor in the election let's assume that the 2008 vote stayed the same for Independents but the Republicans and Democrat turn out was the same as 2004. So we give Obama 52% of the Independents and McCain 44% which is what the exit polling shows. The balance as well as about 1% of the Republican vote having gone towards third party candidates,

If you leave the 2008 Independent percentages as it actually was in 2008 the results would be McCain 64,514,509 and Obama 63,879,394. So if Republicans and Democrats had shown up proportionality in 2008 as they had in 2004 even given Obama's larger percentage vote among Independents McCain would still have won, at least the popular vote.

This is all conjecture of course, for one thing since so few Republicans showed up to polls in 2008-32%  compared to 39% for Democrats this meant the Independent vote made up the difference  29% in 2008 compared to 26% in 2004. However you look at it though, there is little doubt the bigger factor in Obama's win was the low turn out among Republicans not Obama's margin among Independents. Look at it this way if the 37% of Republican voters that turned out in 2004 had turned out in 2008 it would have added 4.3 million votes to McCain, exceeding the just over 3 million vote advantage that Obama had with Independents.

The question is, will this election be closer to a 2004 type turnout or more like a 2008? Remembering that 2008 was the lowest Republican turn out since 1980. The odds, based on not only the 2010 mid terms but party identification and party enthusiasm, that it is definitly headed towards a 2004 type turnout. Consider this article from Gallup earlier this month   More States Move to GOP in 2011, Seventeen states solidly or leaning Republican, up from 10 in 2010
Democrats have lost their solid political party affiliation advantage in 18 states since 2008, while Republicans have gained a solid advantage in 6 states. A total of 17 states were either solidly Republican or leaning Republican in their residents' party affiliation in 2011, up from 10 in 2010 and 5 in 2008. Meanwhile, 19 states including the District of Columbia showed a solid or leaning Democratic orientation, down from 23 in 2010 and 36 in 2008. The remaining 15 states were relatively balanced politically, with neither party having a clear advantage.
That is beyond a political adjustment, that is the beginning of a political realignment. When you see those types of shifts you are seeing something that happens once or twice a century. So you can be clear about how dramatic this change is, here are those "15 states... relatively balanced politically "


By party affiliation those are what are now considered the "purple states". Georgia? Arizona? Arkansas?  But everyone know that those state are really "Red" states. Also consider that since 2008 Virginia, Pennsylvania,Wisconsin, and Ohio have all become Republican dominated at the State level, meaning both their legislatures and governors are Republican, Florida and Arizona already were.

This change in the electoral make up of America since 2008, though significant, is just one small part of the mountain that Obama must climb to be reelected. I will post further on the "Slaying of the Boogeyman" in the days to come


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