Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

Estimates put turnout yesterday at above 130 million, a new record, and some reports even pin the turnout at above 64%, which would be the highest since the election of 1908. A look at the exit polls tells the story of the winning coalition that Obama put together to ensure his unprecedented victory.

Here's how Chuck Todd puts it:

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.

Not only did Barack secure the support of these key groups, but turnout among them was up slightly from 2004's levels.

For example, African-American turnout this year was 13% up from 12% in 2004; and Latino turnout was 9%, up from 8% in 2004. While that may not seem significant, the key was that white voters dropped as a percentage of the entire electorate, from 77% in 04 to 74% this year and even among them Obama outperformed Kerry by 3%.  

Likewise, not only did the 18-29 demo increase their share of the electorate from 17% to 18% AND tilt far more toward Obama than they did toward Kerry 4 years ago, but their numbers increased dramatically from 4 years ago.

But this time, young people turned out to vote in droves. An estimated 22 to 24 million young people voted in this election, an increase in youth turnout by at least 2.2 million over 2004, according to CIRCLE.

Leading MSNBC to posit:

...young voters may prove to have been the key to Barack Obama's victory. Young voters preferred Obama over John McCain by 66 percent to 32 percent -- the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976...

Another key group that fueled Barack Obama's victory last night was that long elusive bloc of unmarried women. Here's Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's analysis of the significance of the unmarried woman vote:

Last night unmarried women supported Barack Obama by a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin according to calculations based on the Edison/Mitofsky National Election Pool published by CNN. This margin exceeds the support Obama generated among both younger voters and Hispanic voters. Unmarried women similarly supported Democratic House candidates by a 64 to 29 percent margin, matching their progressive support in the 2006 elections.

In fact looking back at martial status, unmarried women consistently generated large progressive margins, but never as large as we saw last night. In fact, there emerged a 44-point difference in the behavior of married women and unmarried women. If not for the overwhelming support of unmarried women, John McCain would have won the women's vote and with it, the White House.

Back in March I reported on the uniting of the vast left wing conspiracy to turnout these groups that typically vote for Democrats if they can be turned out in the first place. Last night was truly evidence of the success of that effort.

Update [2008-11-5 17:59:4 by Todd Beeton]:Paul Krugman breaks down Barack Obama's win quite simply:

...basically there was a national wave against Republicans, suggesting that we don’t need a complex narrative.

Tags: Barack Obama, coalition, presidential election (all tags)



Re: Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

What a win!

by Jess81 2008-11-05 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

I hope he can keep it up for 2012. He better act on immigration reform, no matter how much pandering it takes, except to the point where he increases the white gap from where it is. We need to keep at that pace on latinos. thats what Bill Clinton got twice with Latinos, and it was clearly part of a winning formula. I am truly surprised Obama did so well with them, considering their distaste for him in the Dem primary. One of the best things to come out of this is that the blacks will likely now care more about politics because one of their own is the President(elect) of the United States. They need to stay engaged. But keeping the young engaged will be the hardest. They liked Obama in the primary and general because he was anything but the status quo politician. But by 2012, he will be the status quo.

by Lakrosse 2008-11-05 12:45PM | 0 recs
Great analysis

Thanks. These figures are inspiring. And the unmarried women statistics are astonishing - even a bit baffling. But then again I'm old, male and twice married, so what do I know.

by brit 2008-11-05 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

part of the coalition hopefully would include Senator Merkley from Oregon. I have been watching the results trickle in and I had Merkley ahead by 348 votes at one point then an odd thing happened. His count went from 640,653 to 640,569 at the next update .... how can votes be taken away at this point? Perhaps a CNN thing?

by wjbill 2008-11-05 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama's Winning Coalition

I buy Krugman's comments.  I know this isn't a popular comment today, but I still believe this was more an election on politics than it was an election on policy.  Come 2012, the stakes may be far different (well, come 2010, but the realistic outlook on 2010 is that we'll lose some in the House but have, as of now, a good outlook in the Senate).

That said, winning is winning.  We'll build from that.

by toonsterwu 2008-11-05 02:13PM | 0 recs
as usual, you forgot us

As the Democratic party of California forgot us, so did you in analyzing the vote.  Queers constitute somewhere around seven percent of the American population, and vote overwhelmingly for the Democratics.  Unfortunately, as is evidenced in the success of Proposition 8, the democraps don't return the favor.

by candideinnc 2008-11-05 02:38PM | 0 recs


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