The Republicans are in a deep hole nationally (updated)

Pendulums swing in politics, and not every election will be a Democratic wave. However, certain demographic trends seen in this year’s election have to be discouraging for Republicans.

Before the election, some Republicans were confident about John McCain’s chances, in part because they expected a “Bradley effect” to be skewing polls toward Barack Obama. That is, they thought large numbers of white people might be lying to pollsters about their intention to vote for Obama. Polling experts like Sam Wang and Nate Silver and Mark Blumenthal predicted weeks ago that there would be no Bradley effect, and Tuesday’s results showed they were right.

Not only that, Obama did better among white men and white voters generally than John Kerry did four years ago. Obama’s relatively strong performance among whites increased his national popular vote lead and swung states like Indiana (which had not voted Democratic for president since 1964) into his column.

NBC’s Chuck Todd has drawn attention to Obama’s strong showing among college-educated whites in particular:

Our final NBC/WSJ poll before the election showed that Obama had a three-legged stool of support that contributed to his lead over McCain — African Americans, Hispanics, and 18-29 year olds. And that poll (and others like it) proved to be right. Obama won African Americans, 95%-4%; Hispanics, 66%-32%; and 18-29 year olds, 66%-32%. But Obama had one extra bit of support that turned a three-legged stool into a four-legged chair: college-educated whites. McCain narrowly beat him here, 51%-47%, which helped reverse a 17-point deficit Kerry had with all whites in 2004 to the 12-point deficit Obama had last night. And it’s what helped Obama do so well in suburban counties like the ones above in Pennsylvania or the ones in the I-4 corridor of Florida or the ones in Northern Virginia. That’s the difference, folks, between losing an election and winning one.

Obama also more than doubled Kerry’s winning margin among Latino voters. Nationally, he took about 67 percent of the Latino vote. McCain, who was supposed to be a relatively appealing Republican with this demographic, won just 31 percent of their votes. To make matters worse for the GOP, “the number of Latinos who went to the polls increased by nearly 25 percent over 2004.”

In part because of Latino voters, states like New Mexico and Nevada, which were very close in 2004, went to Obama by more than 10 points.

Now look at the charts about the youth vote (aged 18-29) in this post by Mike Connery. Young voters split almost evenly between Bush and Gore. In 2004, they went for Kerry by a 9-point margin. In 2006, they went for Democratic Congressional candidates by a 22-point margin. This year, they went for Obama over McCain by a ridiculous 34-point margin (66 percent for Obama, 32 percent for McCain).

Scroll down this page a little to the graph showing what the electoral map would look like if only 18-29 year olds were voting. McCain would win just eight states for 57 electoral votes and be tied in Arkansas. Also,

Sixty percent of all new voters this year were under age 30, according to a report by Tuft’s Tisch College Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE.

The Republicans better figure out a way to reverse this trend quickly, because

Many academic studies show that if a voter votes for the same party in three consecutive elections they disproportionately carry that political identification with them for the rest of their lives.

Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are a large cohort, because they are mostly children of the Baby Boomers. They have now voted overwhelmingly Democratic in two consecutive elections (2006 and 2008).

Finally, let’s not forget about women voters. They make up more than half of the national electorate, and they went for Obama by 55 percent to 43 percent. Incredibly, 70 percent of unmarried women voters supported Obama. In Ohio, Obama got 54 percent of the women’s vote, and in Pennsylvania he got 60 percent of the women’s vote.

If I were a Republican anywhere, I would be depressed by these numbers.

In the next day or so, I will write about the deep hole Iowa Republicans are in.

UPDATE: If I were a Republican, I would probably drop most of the social issues rhetoric and stick to big government and taxes. However, via Todd Beeton at MyDD I learned that exit poll data don’t show this as a promising path either:

   View of Government

   Should do more 51

   Doing too much 43

   Will your taxes go up if Obama wins?

   Yes 71

   No 27

   Among voters making $200,000 or more

   Obama 52

   McCain 48

UPDATE 2: Paul Rosenberg asserts that the GOP [is] Set to Drive Off a Cliff. Click the link to view charts from a new Democracy Corps report, showing that the electorate as a whole thinks the Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections because they were too conservative, and that the GOP needs to appeal more to moderates to win.

Meanwhile, the subset of Republican respondents in the Democracy Corps survey said the Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 because they were not conservative enough.

Similarly, this survey yet again shows that McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin hurt him more than any other factor with voters who considered both Obama and McCain. But a Rasmussen survey of Republicans taken after the election showed that most think Palin helped McCain’s candidacy, and favor Palin more than any other likely contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

If Republicans cannot acknowledge what just happened, they are unlikely to be able to improve their party’s standing.

  • Bradley Effect?

    I don’t know that it’s fair to say that Republicans were counting on a victory due to the Bradley Effect.  I did some article searches and most that I’ve come across are non-partisan and only refer to the Bradley Effect as a phenomenon in which undecided voters claim they are undecided when they really are not.  I even searched diaries here and found only one recent mention of it here:…  Perhaps as the race became more and more impossible to win Republicans clung to the Bradley Effect as a last resort, but that was a small number of people from what I can tell as opposed to the party as a whole.

    I also don’t think that Republicans are as bad off as you make them out to be.  Here you are looking at presidential votes only, and I have a simple explanation for why Obama won in a landslide: because he was charismatic, while McCain was obviously not.  McCain was unable to energize the Republican party, while Obama energized voters across party lines.  However, as you mentioned in a previous post, Obama’s wave did not carry many Democratic races along with it; people were energized for the person more so than for the party.  The Republicans had a number of factors against them this election, most of them admittedly self-inflicted (non-charismatic candidate, VP nominee unable to garner respect with the party, more seats in the Senate to defend, terrible ratings of the incumbent Republican party, etc.).  I would like to think that they have learned from these mistakes and that the pendulum of politics will continue swinging.

    • Bradley Effect

      I think the Republicans were counting on a Bradley Effect. But, they also were counting on an electorate wondering if Obama’s youth and experience would effect his presidency. They tried to merge the two. It didn’t work.

      The reason we didn’t see more down-ticket Democratic movemant is that Republican re-apportionment created so many near bullet-proof House districts.

      • I think there was a swing

        toward ticket-splitting at the end, when people realized McCain had almost no chance of winning the presidency.

        A lot of Democratic House candidates who seemed in good shape to win, or at least keep it close, lost by big margins (more than 10 points).

        I agree, Republicans were also counting on voters to worry about Obama’s inexperience, but having Palin on the ticket nullified any kind of movement in that direction.

    • I think they are learning the wrong lessons

      from what happened.

      Many polls show that Palin was a terrible drag on the ticket, yet a Rasmussen poll of Republicans only showed that 60 percent thought Palin helped McCain. They are confusing “made me feel better about McCain” with “helped McCain attract votes.”

      McCain was a terrible candidate, but I am not convinced they will do a lot better with a charismatic person like Palin or Jindal in 2012. Huckabee is the best communicator they have, but corporate interests will never allow him to get the GOP nomination (in my opinion).

    • one other point

      The youth vote was already moving toward the Democrats when we ran Kerry, hardly the most charismatic politician.

      The youth vote went even more decisively for Democrats in the 2006 Congressional races, when we ran all different kinds of candidates.

      Obama’s campaign had great branding among young voters. I wouldn’t expect Democrats to maintain a 2-1 advantage with this cohort forever. But even a more modest 55-45 Democratic advantage with the children of Baby Boomers would cause Republicans real problems for many election cycles to come.

  • Republican Message

    If you want to see an example of local Republican Party discord and the quandry that they face, watch “Iowa Press” on Two state republican leaders were on. One was from the fiscal conservative side, the other from the fundamentalist religious side. They are each fighting for control and searching for a message. It’s a microscopic look at what the national party is going through.

    • thanks for the tip

      I will check that out.

      The religious wing is steadily making the GOP unelectable in most of the country. I am convinced of that.

  • Holy S

    As I have stated before I have been a precinct committeman for over thirty years.  When I first saw those graphics I thought and said Holy S.

    Atlast that idiot Bush did something right.  It looks like that clown created a Democratic genration.  I only hope that the Dems can turn this in to a progressive liberal agenda and correct this nation.

    • Bush was terrible for the country

      but I do think he turned the very large young cohort into a Democratic generation, just like my cohort that came of age under Reagan continues to vote more Republican than other age groups.

      The anti-immigration wing of the GOP is largely responsible for screwing them with the Latino voters.

      The religious wing has done a lot of damage to Republican prospects for addressing the gender gap.

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