4 years, 5 months ago
According to this article by Nate Silver in The New York Times:
Among the Republicans that the polling firm classified as definite voters, Mr. Santorum’s lead was larger, 11 points over Mr. Romney. However, Mr. Romney led Mr. Santorum 33 to 22 among voters the pollsters classified as more marginal.
Ordinarily, a candidate should benefit from having the support of more definite voters — and most polling firms give them the bulk of the weight in their turnout models, which is why Mr. Santorum leads the poll over all.
The universe of indefinite voters is broader. But those votes don’t count for anything unless the candidate can get the voters to the polls.
That’s something Mr. Romney has had trouble doing so far. In states and counties that would appear to be strong for him, turnout is generally running below its 2008 pace. But in his weaker areas — say, most of the state of South Carolina — it has been steady or has improved some.
The discrepancy may help explain why Mr. Santorum has a larger lead, 15 points, in another poll of Michigan from Public Policy Polling. That firm projects Michigan’s electorate to be decidedly more conservative than it was in 2008. For instance, it projects 48 percent of the voters to be evangelical Christians, up from 39 percent in 2008, and 38 percent of voters to be “very conservative,” up from 24 percent.
One can debate whether these are realistic assumptions or not. The Republican electorate as a whole has become somewhat more conservative than in 2008, but the poll is projecting a more decisive shift.
Automated polling firms, like Public Policy Polling, often have low response rates, meaning that they tend to poll only the most enthusiastic supporters. At the same time, turnout in primaries and caucuses is normally quite low — so if a poll’s sample is biased in the direction of more enthusiastic voters, it may nevertheless have strong predictive power.
The thrust of the article is a warning to Mitt Romney to step up efforts to get more of “his people” to the polls in the upcoming primary contests. The big takeaway for me from this article is the bit about an increasingly conservative electorate. In Michigan of all places, too. While Mr. Silver downplays this forecast by the polling company, Public Policy Polling, it would go a long way to explaining the electoral tidal wave that occurred in November 2010, something that the Leftist Media seem curiously silent about these days.
If the electorate has made a “decisive shift” to conservative values since 2008, it will be quite difficult for Obama to win reelection. His election in 2008 was heavily dependent upon: 1) a significant backlash vote against George W. Bush and the Republicans in general; 2) a surge of voting by the college age demographic that traditionally has been quite small in past elections, and; 3) (the most significant factor in my opinion) a marked drop in turnout among conservative voters.
To distill this even further, the election of Obama resulted in large part from a fairly unique convergence of high disaffection with the outgoing President and that president’s party, a New Flavor Candidate that promised change and a moderate GOP candidate that could not stir conservatives to turn out and vote.
The first, two factors will be noticeably absent in 2012. Obama’s unvetted “Hope and Change” circus is well known now and he will be the focus of blame and dissatisfaction for all the ills of the last 4 years. The so-called Youth Vote is one of the groups suffering the most and unlikely to vote in anywhere near the numbers in 2008.
The last factor remains undecided and it is Obama’s last, best hope for reelection.
If Obama can secure high turnout from his Leftist base of voters (which amounts to approximately 20% of the voting population) and pick off another 25% of Independents that lean Left or Center Left, he only needs to discourage the conservative vote (which comes in at around 40% of the voting population according to Gallup). This calculation perfectly explains the policies of Obama in the last months. The XL Pipeline had to be canned to please his base. He could not afford to approve it. The stance on contraception funding in religious organizations was similarly intended to secure the base. Occupy Wall Street has been organized to stir up the Youth Vote if possible.
The final piece has been Obama’s strategy of bashing every GOP candidate that rises in the polls in the hopes of dispiriting conservatives and depressing their turnout in November. The Democrat Party and its allies in the media are in non-stop campaign mode to ensure that, no matter who the GOP nominates, conservatives will be dissatisfied and disillusioned. And the Republican Party has seemingly cooperated in that strategy by launching vicious attacks against each and every candidate, leaving a haze of discouragement.
Given the conservative shift in voting patterns cited by PPP in Nate Silver’s article, the fight over turnout by conservative voters may be the decisive battle of 2012.