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Monday, August 27, 2012

Demographics of Race in the Presidential Election

For the second time in US history, the presidential race includes a black and a white. The first time, in 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain. Now, the question is whether President Obama can keep the presidency when confronted by another white, Mitt Romney. The 2008 race seemed generally not to be about race, although that was obviously a factor in the minds of many voters. But Thomas Edsall of Columbia University opines in today's New York Times that the Republican Party is putting the issue of race directly into the race, so to speak.
The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.
Edsall argues that this strategy seems consistent with the data on party identification posted online by the Pew Research Center.
There is extensive poll data showing the depth of Republican dependence on white voters.
On August 23, Pew Research released its latest findings on partisan identification, and the gains that the Republican Party has made among older and non-college whites since 2004 are remarkable.

Most importantly, the Pew surveys show that 89% of voters who identify themselves as Republican are white. Faced with few if any possibilities of making gains among blacks and Hispanics — whose support for Obama has remained strong — the Romney campaign has no other choice if the goal is to win but to adopt a strategy to drive up white turnout.
However, if you look at those data posted by Pew, you see that white, non-Hispanic Republicans account for only 27 percent of registered voters. Assuming that equal proportions of people in all parties and racial groups vote (and, of course, that's a big assumption), that is clearly not enough to win the election. Other factors besides race are going to have to play a role.

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