We haven’t heard a lot since the day after the elections from the no-doubt-exhausted numbers-crunching guild, led by the man whose influence was inestimably enhanced by his know-nothing conservative critics: Nate Silver. But Nate has a post that went up Wednesday showing the states where the two presidential candidates appeared to have over-performed pre-election poll estimates significantly:
Mr. Obama beat the polls in almost every state in the Northeast, and particularly in New Jersey. It could just be a coincidence — Mr. Obama also beat the polls on the West Coast, which has some cultural similarities to the Northeast but which was not affected by the storm. It seems more likely, however, that there were some regional effects from the storm, especially in the worst-affected areas.
Interestingly, Mr. Obama also did much better than expected in the Gulf Coast — particularly in Mississippi and Louisiana, where he performed better in 2012 than in 2008. These states have been catastrophically affected by previous storms like Hurricane Katrina, of course. Could it have been that Mr. Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy was more salient in these states?….
[T]here was some tendency for Mr. Obama to beat his forecasts in states where a large percentage of the population are racial minorities, but to match or underperform them in whiter states.
This squares in some ways with what we already “knew” by looking at the exit polls — that Mr. Obama performed quite a bit worse among white voters than he did in 2008, but that minority turnout was high and that Mr. Obama did very well with African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics. It seems likely that some pollsters were underestimating minority turnout, although others may have overestimated his performance among white voters.
The culture wars of the last few decades have divided white voters along religious lines, but young voters are less religious than their elders—ensuring a tough time for the GOP. For decades, the GOP formula for an outsized share of the white vote has been straight forward: decisively win white evangelicals, which make up about 33 percent of white voters; in exchange, lose non-Christian whites, who represent a far smaller 20 percent of white voters; and then fight for white non-evangelical Protestants and Catholics. Although Republicans tend to carry non-evangelical Christians, the principle source of the GOP’s lead among white voters is their alliance with the largest group of white culture warriors. But a recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study finds that only 22 percent of 18-29 year olds consider themselves Evangelical Christians, compared to 31 percent who are non-Christian.
Live by the sword, die by the sword.