Report: 2004 turnout numbers would have elected Romney

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would have won the presidency if the white and black turnout rates had stayed at their 2004 levels, according to a new analysis of 2012 election.

“The battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same,” according to The Associated Press’s summary of research by William Frey, an expert at the Brookings Institution.

Overall turnout declined from 62 percent in 2008 to 58 percent in 2012, Frey reported.

The drop-off reduced the overall turnout by up to 5 million votes, despite a slight increase in the number of eligible white voters, said the AP report.

In 2004, the national turnout was 60 percent, and black turnout was significantly below 2008 and 2012 levels.

The 2012 drop-off was concentrated among GOP-leaning white voters.

The AP’s report is corroborated by Resurgent Republic, a right-of-center polling and research firm, which measured turnout changes from 2008 to 2012.

Obama’s campaign benefited from a 17 percent turnout increase among unmarried people, a 9 percent increase among unmarried women, a 10 percent rise in Hispanic voters and a 6 percent rise in the youth vote.

Obama’s worst performing group, according to Resurgent’s recent analysis, was union households, where turnout fell by 14 percent.

In contrast, the only group that turned out in greater numbers for the GOP were those who earned more than $100,000 per year, according to Resurgent’s analysis. That group’s turnout rose by 7 percent.

There was no change in turnout among GOP-leaning college graduates, white evangelicals or older voters, said Resurgent.

Worse — for Republicans — is the fact that pro-GOP turnout fell among the party’s critical constituencies.

Turnout fell by 3 percent among white women, 6 percent among white men, 2 percent among Protestants, 9 percent among married voters, and 15 percent among GOP-leaning middle class voters who earn between $50,000 and $100,000.

According to Frey’s AP analysis, the black vote reached 13 percent of votes cast in 2012, even though blacks comprised 12 percent of the electorate.

Latinos provided 10 percent of the 2012 ballots. (Latinos constitute 11 percent of the eligible electorate.)

In November, Romney won roughly 59 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls. But that landslide advantage was insufficient because white turnout fell to roughly 72 percent of the ballot, said the exit poll.

The AP led its report on Frey’s analysis with the news that the 2012 election was the first in which African Americans voted at a higher rate than white Americans.

The record black turnout occurred despite the deep impact of the housing bubble on African Americans, and despite their high unemployment.

“America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home,” AP reported.

In response to the analysis, GOP pollster Whit Ayres urged the GOP to broaden its appeal to minority voters, in part by passing the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.

Ayres is on Resurgent’s board of directors.

The AP report also said that the Latino and black shares of the electorate will each rise to 13 percent in 2024.

But the Latino share of the electorate will jump to “as high as 16 percent, if nearly 11 million immigrants here illegally become eligible for U.S. citizenship,” said the AP report.

The pending Senate bill on immigration would provide a multi-staged amnesty and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The bill would also bring in another 22 million Latino and Asian immigrants by 2025, according to an analysis of the bill by NumbersUSA, which favors slower rates of immigration.

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