Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Racial and gender party profiles based on '08 primaries

Most of the interesting demographic stuff so far this Presidential campaign cycle has taken place on the Democratic side. That's not surprising, since the Republican party is overwhelmingly white and mostly male. The race and gender of all of the GOP's candidates were the same as the typical Republican voter. That meant 'the issues' were more of a deciding factor than demographic characteristics were for Republicans relative to Democrats. Unfortunately for the conservative base, Romney and Huckabee split their support while neoconservatives and 'moderates' were able to get behind McCain after Giuliani flamed out early.

As Hillary and Obama went at it, the details of their respective healthcare plans remained obscure, as Pat Buchanan humorously pointed out. The Democratic contests underscored the wisdom of Singapore founder Lee Kwan Yew:
In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.
States where exit polling data were gathered for caucuses is not included among the polled state numbers because the number of total voters is unknown. They're included in the non-polled numbers instead. When estimating voter totals for the two Democratic candidates, I looked to demographically and politically similar states for guidance but this time party totals are what I'm after, so the exit polls aren't as much help.

Because the Republican nominating process essentially ended on March 4, exit polling data for voters on the GOP side only extends up to that date. The exit polls cover 74.5% of the US' total population. To adjust for the quarter of the population not represented for whites, I took the national white percentage and divided it by the total white percentage (adjusted for population size of course) of the population not covered in the exit polling and multiplied the result by the white percentage of total votes from the population covered in the exit polling. The same process was then repeated for the other racial groups. I then adjusted proportionally to get the percentages of all five groups to equal 100% (I've never liked the "Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding").

The white percentage in states not covered in the exit polling represents 80% of the non-polled states' total population, compared to just 62% in the states polled. Recall most of the states that held caucuses are sparsely populated white flyover states with the glaring exceptions of DC and Hawaii (and to a lesser extent Nevada and Colorado). But because even though whites made up less than two-thirds of the population in polled states they still comprised 89% of Republican voters, the adjustment effect only nudges the GOP's white total up a couple of percentage points. It correspondingly drops the Hispanic percentage by a little over one percent (Hispanics made up 17% of the population in polled states compared to only 8.3% in non-polled states).

The same method was applied on the Democratic side. The effect of the adjustments are even more marginal here, as only 11% of the population was not covered in exit polling due to caucuses instead of primaries being held. This ups the white percentage by 1.5 points by trimming the black percentage by a point and the Hispanic percentage by half a point.

Here are the percentage totals by gender and by race with the aforementioned adjustments included (with pre-adjusted totals in parentheses) for states where exit polling was conducted and individual votes were tallied (click on graphics for a better image):

White67.5 (65.7)
Black18.0 (19.3)
Hispanic10.7 (11.2)
Asian2.1 (2.1)
Other1.7 (1.7)

White90.6 (88.9)
Black2.0 (2.3)
Hispanic4.8 (5.9)
Asian1.3 (1.6)
Other1.3 (1.3)

In Freedonomics, John Lott shows that female suffrage pushed US politics to the left starting in the early 1900s. A century later, that, in addition to the Fifteenth Amendment, continues to push the country leftward.

I wonder if Bill Clinton is still exulting over the minoritization of whites in the US. You might say the chickens have come home to roost. He should be more careful what he wishes for in the future.

In what year will that become the case on the Democratic side? Doing some quick estimating, my guess is sometime around 2030, but that's projecting a long way out. At that point the rubicon will have been crossed. As the Democratic party continues to represent West Virginians less and less, will there be an exodus to the Republican side, essentially creating two political parties--the white party and the non-white party--in the US? That is already the case to some extent, of course.

A few other interesting tidbits:

- Oklahoma and Utah are the only two states where the gender trend was bucked. In both cases, women comprised a majority of Republican voters. Pulling that off requires being so conservative as to move the female distribution far enough to the right that a big chunk of the left side of the distribution is still in Republican territory--enough to overcome the smaller male distribution that is inevitably to the right of female distribution in all states, irrespective of political environment. In no state did men make up a majority on the Democratic side.

- In Utah, Mitt Romney received 255,218 votes. The combined total for all other candidates from both parties comes to 146,705. This was one of the two only instances where one candidate garnered more votes than all the other candidates from both sides combined while the Republican race was still competitive. The other occurence was Washington DC, where Obama dominated with 85,534 to all the other candidates' pooled total of 32,984. Tribalism anyone?


Sleep said...

On my computer the table for the Republicans is hard to read unless I copy-paste. If you add a line break before and after it it should line up.

Also, to throw in a Huckabee quote:

"Pretty soon, Southern white guys like me may be in the minority!"

Audacious Epigone said...


Any better, or still off? Does zooming in or out make a difference?

Sleep said...

Yes it still gets cut off.

BGC said...

Very interesting stuff - and depressing too. The pie charts brought home the scale of things in a way I hadn't previously realized.

Maybe this eidence of tribalism (motivated by vote-buying) would tend to contradict Bryan Caplan's Myth of the Rational Voter. Tribalistic voting looks pretty self-interested, hence rational.

Anonymous said...

haha nice colors for graphs

Audacious Epigone said...


It strikes me as roughly analagous to the rationality of the independent small investor (the guy who manages his own ETrade or Scottrade account). He does what he thinks will make him money--sometimes it is rationally, sometimes it is not. Blacks rightly suspect Obama will try to increase special privileges for them like increased wealth transfers and defense of affirmative action. But Obama's open borders stance ist going to hurt them further, at least on an individual level (and probably a political level down the road, as Hispanic voters overtake black voters as the second largest racial voting bloc in the US).

Audacious Epigone said...


Hehe, it's intuitive, isn't it? That makes it easier to follow!

Lord Vader said...

Polling indicates Jews appear to be hesitant to support Obama:


Because Democrats usually take the lion’s share of Jewish votes, the real indicator is not whether Obama is beating McCain in this demographic, but whether he winning it by a similar historical margin. And in that analysis, Obama is way behind.

New Gallup poll data indicate that he leads Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, by 60 percent to 33 percent among Jewish voters, close to the average split of 65 to 32 percent in favor of Democrats among Jewish voters in exit polls since 1972. But that average was lowered by the 1980 election, when Jimmy Carter received just 45 percent of the Jewish vote.

In 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry won 74 percent. In 2000, Al Gore won 79 percent, about what Bill Clinton took in 1996 and 1992. If McCain wins a third of Jewish voters, that would be better than any other GOP candidate has done among the group since 1988.

So McCain is doing 14-19% better than Obama among Jews when compared to the last 4 presidential elections. The last Democrat to fare worse than that was Jimmy Carter, and Obama has been compared to Carter on more than one occasion.

This year, with some swing states hanging in the balance, the Jewish vote, should Obama not impress a lot more of them, and quickly, could prove his undoing.

Jews made up 3 percent of the electorate in 2004, but Obama aides think their vote may be key in a few swing states where the margin in November could be razor thin: Florida, where Jews make up 4 percent of the population; Nevada, where they make up 3 percent; and Ohio, where they are strong in the Cleveland suburbs. If McCain is able to put New Jersey and Pennsylvania into play, the Jewish vote could loom large there, as well.

Jonathan Sarna, a historian of American Jewry, said that Carter was the only Democrat in many decades who won the presidency — in 1976 — with less than 70 percent of U.S. Jews supporting him.

As of today, Obama is 10 points shy of that benchmark.

Audacious Epigone said...

Lord Vader,

Hillary won Jews by 2-1 in NY, FL, and NV over Obama. He's close to some Palestinian 'sympathizers' and he's black, neither of which help among American Jewry.

According to exit polls, they only comprised 2% of Ohio voters on the Democratic side and 0% (less than .5%) on the Republican side. Where are they?

Lord Vader said...

"He's close to some Palestinian 'sympathizers' and he's black, neither of which help among American Jewry."

But of course, this is why I found the Gallup poll of Jews so interesting in terms of the future of American politics.

As the minority population grows, the Democrats will have to pander more to radical leftist minorities and nominate more far left candidates like Obama and fewer centrists like Bill Clinton.

The Democrats will not be able to saitsify other moderate white Democrats and white independents. Those white Democrat voters will simply move to the GOP as the Democrats become more overtly the anti/non-white party and the Republicans become the party of all white voters.

The poll of Jews having a bit of cold feet re Obama and moving a bit to McCain - inspite of the terrible environment for the GOP -is just a taste of the future.

Because, really, Obama should be 30 points ahead of McCain, and yet, he isn't because he is not doing well with whites.

Audacious Epigone said...

Lord Vader,

Interesting. So you think the white evacuation from the Democratic party will accelerate going forward, and the proportionate white shrinkage in the GOP will stop or even be reversed? That's what my intuition told me, but I was surprised to see both rates of white shrinkage (the Democrats' relative loss has been about twice that of the Republicans') continue pretty steadily over the last three decades (I have a post coming up on it).