Saturday, February 09, 2008

Obama's supporters mostly women; Blacks will put him in the WH if he gets there

Steve Sailer posted part of a neat (unweighted) table on the Democratic demographics of Super Tuesday's vote. With virtually all of the votes now tallied, we can get at the nationwide (well, of the states that have gone thus far, anyway) numbers by major demographic characteristics for the two Democratic frontrunners.

The numbers aren't flawless. Most unsatisfactory is the lack of exit polling data for most of the caucuses, where Obama has dominated. But these votes only represent about 5%-6% cast thus far for a Democratic candidate. Included in the totals without blemish are the results from the Nevada and New Mexico caucuses (the latter essentially being a primary).

I also included Iowa numbers in the calculations. Because state delegates are officially recorded (rather than actual votes received for each candidate by the participating public), I estimated the total Democratic voter participation by looking at Missouri voter registration numbers and turnout. This probably inflates the total Iowa turnout (and thus Obama's white numbers), since primaries tend to draw more people than caucuses do. On the other hand, the long campaign in Iowa and the hype surrounding its results probably meant Iowa's turnout was higher than would otherwise be expected for a caucus.

The other caucus states are not included. Michigan is also excluded due to the fact that 41% of the vote was 'uncommitted'--essentially a vote for either Obama or Edwards. As the demographics of those two candidates' supporters are disparate, it seems imprudent to hazard guesses as to how the uncommitted vote split between the two.

Following are the 'total' votes (figured by taking a state's exit poll results and comparing the percentages to total votes) cast in the states included by gender, in thousands. Green shows the percentage of the candidate's total base the category represents; Blue shows what percentage of that category each candidate garnered relative to the other candidate.

Hillary's malesHillary's femalesObama's malesObama's females
2,826 (37.6%) (44.8%)4,685 (62.4%) (53.4%)3,483 (46.0%) (55.2%)4,090 (54.0%) (46.6%)

Hillary is the putative woman's candidate. And of course she does enjoy a heavy advantage among women (white women, that is. Black women have overwhelmingly backed Obama in every contest--only a few points less firmly than black men have). But testament to just how much of a harpy's nest the Democratic party has become, the majority of Obama's supporters are also women.

If you're wondering what percentage of the Democratic nominating process voters have been male, the above table suggests 41.8%. Actually, it is a bit higher than that, because the other candidates (Edwards most notably) are not included. I'm going to break each party down demographically (at least by race and gender together) after the state contests are all wrapped up.

The racial breakdown is trickier, because every state but California has at least one category not included in the exit polling data due to lack of a sufficient number of total voters for that category. To arrive at estimate totals, in the states for which exit polling data were not available, I computed an average for each candidate based on data from the states where there were ample data for that category. This was based on vote totals only for Obama and Hillary, so votes garnered by other candidates do not factor into the estimates at all (a good thing).

For example, of black votes received either by Hillary or Obama in states with enough information for exit polling data, Hillary took 16% of the total (and Obama the other 84%). These percentages are then used to come up with estimates for actual black votes in states with insufficient numbers of blacks for exit polling purposes. Say 5% of the voters in a state were black, and the total votes received by Hillary and Obama came to 10,000. To come up with Hillary's estimated number of black votes: 10000*.05*.16 = 80.

National totals (from states with exit polling data) up to and including Super Tuesday, in thousands of votes cast. Again, green shows the percentage of that candidate's total base the category represents; Blue shows what percentage of that category each candidate garnered relative to the other candidate. Asians and 'others' (Native Americans), totalling a few percent of the Democratic total, are not included.

Hillary's WhitesBlacksHispanics
5,165 (73.5%) (57.2%)461 (6.6%) (15.6%) 1,397 (19.9%) (63.8%)

Obama's WhitesBlacksHispanics
3,858 (54.0%) (42.8%)2,489 (34.9%) (84.4%)793 (11.1%) (36.2%)

Blacks made up one-fifth of John Kerry's support in the '04 election. They comprise less than one-fifteenth of Hillary's support in this nomination contest.

While there were more than three white Democratic voters for each black Democratic voter in '04, there are fewer than two full white Obama supporters for each black backer (that easily holds even if liberal estimates regarding turnout and white support for Obama are made for the states lacking exit poll data; additionally, Obama's probable support in Michigan adds around another 90,000 to his black total that is not included above).

Obama has managed to dominate the black vote (almost as overwhelmingly when in competition with his Democratic rivals as Democrats beat Republicans among black voters in general elections) without snapping up the white vote and without becoming the Black Candidate (in most states and in the eyes of whites, anyway).

The putative essentiality of the Hispanic vote gets an inordinate amount of attention, but if Obama pulls the nomination off, the black vote will have been the deciding factor*. Without black voters, Hillary clobbers Obama, 57%-43% (that generously assumes Obama outdid Hillary 2-to-1 among whites in the states without exit polling data). She beats him more soundly than Kerry beat Bush in California.

If Obama becomes the 44th President of the US, it will be fair to say that African Americans put him in the Whitehouse.

That'd be a potentially ironic outcome: Obama spent so much of his adult life struggling to be black enough. Then, after failing a test of that blackness in 2000 and leaving the struggle behind to become a raceless leader (at least publicly), he rides into the most powerful position in the world on the shoulders of black America.

*I realize one vote is one vote, and you might also say "Hillary lost because she only took 57% of the white vote instead of 67%. Tautologically true. But that would clearly render Obama the Black Candidate who went down to a white flurry just as other black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have in the past. You might also say that if Hillary had won all of the Hispanic vote, she would've gotten the nomination, and so the Hispanic vote was really the deciding factor. Or you might say that if she would've gotten more votes than Obama, she would've had the nomination, and so a lack of votes was the problem. Fine, whatever. My point is that, in the face of opposition from most whites and most Hispanics, black support may be enough to take the nomination and by extension the Presidency. Can't you just ponder this modern demonstration of black empowerment without being so difficult?!


al fin said...

Women + Blacks = White House?

Have you seen the website Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

If you check out that website and the YouTube music video of Obama's "Yes We Can!" speech, you may begin to see the huge mid-oceanic swell that is forming for Obama.

As someone who has been in the middle of charismatic movements--religious when I was young, later secular--I understand the emotional groundswell that forms and overwhelms a person's rational defenses.

I am watching it happen, for now.

Anonymous said...

You say that Hillary "clobbers" Obama among whites. Does this include this weekend's 3-state sweep? True, they are not big states, but he clobbered her, I mean, clobbered. Nearly 70-30 clobbered.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at that website. It's obviously put up by someone who doesn't like Obama.

This Obama thing is a bubble. It all depends when it will burst, as bubbles always do.

Has anyone noticed that he fakes a slight ebonic accent?

Audacious Epigone said...


No, but the ratio barely budges because of them. Hillary extends her lead by about ~50,000 w/o blacks via LA, and then probably loses ~150,000 in WA and ~40,000. A net loss of 140-150k non-blacks out of a total of more than 10 million--less than a 2% drop.

Anonymous said...

Then that means that blacks are a hugely overrepresented percentage of the Dem. primary vote, compared to the General.

It's true as you say that Obama won't gain the White House w/o the black vote. But McCain can win without it. Whereas Hillary will barely win the nomination (if she does) without it, and cannot win the White House without it. The Dems have to cobble together a very combustible coalition to win.

All of this looks, to me, as if Hillary has been checkmated.

If Hillary loses the Dem. nomination, that's that, obviously.

But if she wins the nomination, blacks (and yoots) sulk and don't vote. Bet on that. The result? Hill loses the the General.

If Obama wins the nomination, I seriously doubt he will win the NASCAR vote. All the things that make him anathema to movement conservatives make him attractive to independents, except crackdown on illegal immigration, which has broad appeal. He can shift on that without looking Romney-phony.

Like it or not, McCain has a good chance at the White House. I just don't buy that Obama-mania has lasting appeal.

Jay S.

Anonymous said...

"All the things that make him anathema to movement conservatives make him"

"him" being McCain, not Obama.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al Fin,

Heh, funny stuff. If you're critically untouchable and there's an endless constituency that basks in self-admiration for supporting you...


Republican turnout has been about half that of Democratic turnout at most primaries and caucuses. There's a substantial faction of conservatives who will not vote for McCain. Yes, he will come close to splitting Hispanics with Obama, but big deal--that's 6% of the total electorate.

The wildcard, of course, is Obama's past that has been given essentially no exposure. Will Hillary go down without going that route? I imagine more than one 527 will make an issue of it in the general if others do not before then.

Hillary's 'last stand' will be March 4, in Ohio and Texas. If she takes those, she has California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Ohio. That's impressive. Most of the superdelegates will be on her side at the convention if she's still alive then. The 'market' has it in Obama's favor now, 3-to-1. I don't think I could take that bet on Obama's side. But my prognostication abilities, or lack thereof, are nothing to speak of, so I should probably just shut my opinionative trap and get back to looking at the numbers :)

"J Silverheels" said...

A few responses:

1. Will Hillary bring up Obama's past? Not a chance. She can't risk alienating black further.

2. Will the Republicans, during the General? Of course!

3. I think the hardcore conservatives are as important as the Latinos, thatis, not very. Your mileage obviously varies. In any case, I think that all but the most right-wing will hold their noses and vote for McCain. Remember 2000? The base wasn't too enthused about Bush.

4. Turnout...let's see what happens to Republican turnout when Barack Hussein Obama is the Democratic nominee, when that name has been drummed into their psyches repeatedly.

5. Bubbles burst.

Anyway, it's all a mystery, and that's what horse races are for.

J. Silverheels said...

I'd be interested to see you crunch some numbers to find out how much of the white vote McCain needs to get the White House.

Audacious Epigone said...


In the general? Differing levels of voter turnout make those predictions hard to make. I'm not sure how Hispanics and Asians will go in if it ends up McCain v Obama, either. It's conceivable that both groups roughly split parties in November.

Say that happens, and blacks again comprise 11% of the electorate, as they did in '04. If Obama takes blacks 10-to-1 (I suspect he'll get ~93%), then McCain will have to get 57% of the white vote to win the popular vote. Bush took 58% in '04, by comparison.

Fat Knowledge said...


Just wondering if you think that the media is overdoing it putting Obama as the favorite. I tend to think they are. I haven't looked at it super closely, but it appears to me that his wins lately have had more to do with the demographics and format of contests rather than any momentum/shifting of votes to his side. Do you agree?

Clinton has to win in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but I see no reason why she can't. This poll has her up decisively in Ohio .

I also think Clinton does well in areas with high unemployment and where house prices are dropping. Check out this graph. This will help her in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Of course, if this does play out like this, even though it had little to do with momentum and more to do with demographics, the media will call her the 'comeback kid' and any changes she made in the week leading up to March 4th will be considered the reason for the victory.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks for the link. I read that article when you posted on it previously (I think it was you, anyway).

Yes, I've found the coronation premature, and the entire gamut of coverage has been absurdly slanted in Obama's favor. It's been pretty naked, too (Chris Matthews' comments as a well-known instance).

I'm hesitant to speculate further, since I thought demographics would've given the nomination to Hillary earlier on. The only state that 'impresses' me as far as Obama's chances are concerned is Virginia, which demographically looked pretty favorable for Hillary.

If she takes Texas, I think she'll still take the nomination. Can you imagine the candidate who takes New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Ohio not getting the nomination?