Election 2012 and Election Poll Modeling Post-Mortem
The Final Washington Dispatch Poll Model showed Mitt Romney leading with 48.7% of the vote over President Obama at 47.4% of the vote nationally. Mitt Romney has received about 48% of the vote thus far, with some votes still left to count. President Obama has received about 50%. Undecideds broke heavily to Obama.
The model showed a dead heat in Ohio, 48% to 48%. We got a dead heat in Ohio, Obama leads 50% to 48% with 10% left to report.
The model showed a dead heat in Colorado, with Romney at 48%. Romney is at 47% with 10% left to report.
The model showed Romney at 50% in Florida. He's at 49% with 3% left to report.
The model showed Romney at 50% in Virginia. He's at 48%.
The model showed a dead heat in Iowa with Romney at 47%. He's at 46% with 4% left to report.
Nationally the model showed Romney at 50% among independents. He won 50% of independents.
Everywhere we look, the model was relatively accurate at predicting Romney's vote total, with true misses coming in New Hampshire and Nevada.
The model was, however, incredibly inaccurate at predicting President Obama's vote totals. This appears to be the case because of: (a) Undecided voters breaking heavily in favor of President Obama in the end, and (b) the turnout model based on 2004-2010 used for the primary Washington Dispatch Poll Model results was off, and the 2008 only or the 2008-2010 turnout model turned out to be the better model, depending on the state in question. Why? It seems that team Obama was right--2008 was not a fluke demographically because of the wave election, and 2010 was merely a better year for Republicans because of poor minority and Democratic midterm turnout.
White voters did in fact shrink yet again as a percentage of the electorate, and as a result counteracted the increased/decreased Republican/Democratic enthusiasm from 2008.
America is changing and Republicans are at a key cross-roads.
Mitt Romney won the Independent vote, and in the process delivered the best performance among independents by a Republican Presidential candidate in 25 years.
- 2012: Romney - Won them 50% to 45%
- 2008: McCain - Lost them 44% to 52%
- 2004: Bush - Lost them 48% to 49%
- 2000: Bush - Won them 48% to 46%
- 1996: Dole - Lost 35% to 43%
- 1992: Bush - Lost 32% to 38%
- 1988: Bush - Won 55% to 43%
There were simply too many Democratic voters in the 2012 electorate for Romney to prevail, and specifically too few women and too few minorities voting Republican.
The same electorate that voted to reelect President Obama by a slight majority also believed by a slightly larger majority that Mitt Romney would be better for the economy, and a large majority thought that the economy was the top issue of the election.
See National 2012 Exit Polling.
Mitt Romney convinced a majority of the voters he'd be better for the economy. Yet Mitt Romney lost the election, and lost by double-digits among women and lost by over 40% among Latinos.
The problem for the Republican Party could not be any clearer. Romney's economic message of lower taxation, limited government, and free enterprise with less but more efficient government regulation worked.
Romney still lost the election, against an opponent whose entire strategy focused around using negative campaigning against Romney, specifically on social issues and by spending billions of dollars and many hours of campaigning painting Romney as an extreme social conservative. True, the Obama campaign also attacked Mr. Romney personally on an economic front, but as the exit polls showed, this tact failed and Romney won the voters over on the economy, including many who voted for Mr. Obama in spite of that fact.
The Republican Party can win elections with its core economic and fiscal message and beliefs. However, the Republican Party will only continue to suffer national election defeats if it continues to turn-off and fail to attract more female and minority voters.
Many Republicans predicted a repeat of 1980, and compared President Obama to President Carter. While the comparison between failed leadership and policies may be apt, the election comparison clearly was not. Based on the 1980 electorate, and the 2012 performance of Mitt Romney among various demographic groups, Mr. Romney would have won the election by 10% or more last night had the electorate looked anything remotely like the 1980 electorate.
It didn't. And it won't, ever again.