Tuesday, June 10, 2008

General Election Matchups

All the usual caveats apply about early polling, but I decided to take a look at the polls to see how a McCain-Obama race looks compared to the Bush-Kerry race in 2004. I used a recent Gallup analysis of the demographics of the McCain-Obama contest and compared them where I could to the 2004 exit polls. Here are the results:

Bush Kerry Difference McCain Obama Difference
Men 55 44 11 49 43 6
Women 48 51 -3 42 48 -6
65+ 52 47 5 50 38 12
White 58 41 17 55 38 17
Black 11 88 -77 4 90 -86
Latino 44 53 -9 29 62 -33
HS or Less 52 47 5 46 43 3
Some College 54 46 8 47 45 2
College Grad 52 46 6 47 47 0
Postgrad 44 55 -11 54 41 13
East 43 56 -13 40 50 -10
Midwest 51 48 3 43 47 -4
South 58 42 16 52 39 13
West 49 50 -1 43 50 -7

For all the talk about Obama's problem with women voters who supported Hillary Clinton, there's really no evidence for this. The gender gap (calculated as the women's Democratic vote minus the men's Democratic vote divided by two) in 2004 was 7 points and this year it's 6 points, essentially the same.

Among older voters (the other age categories didn't exactly match up across the two data sets) McCain is running much stronger than Bush. In 2004, Bush won this group by just 5 points, but McCain is winning by 12 points. This is no surprise since Obama's support in the primaries was always weakest among this group, due at least in part to his race.

On the other hand, Obama is running no worse among whites overall than Kerry did in 2004, suggesting that if he's losing any ground among older whites, he's making it up among younger whites. In addition, Obama is getting nearly unanimous support among blacks and running much better than Kerry among Latinos, another group that Obama is supposedly cool to Obama. In fact, Obama's 62-29 margin among Latino's is very similar to Gore's 62-35 margin in 2000.

This comparison also undermines the idea that Obama runs best among highly educated voters (his critics have ridiculed him as the candidate of the faculty lounge). The comparison shows that he's actually running a bit better than Kerry in all education categories, with the biggest improvements in the two middle categories, those with some college or those with a college degree.

A regional analysis shows that the 2008 candidates run about the same in the East and the South as Bush and Kerry did in 2004, though somewhat surprisingly, Obama is doing better in the South and McCain better in the East. The results from the South are likely the result of Obama maxing out among black voters. As for the East, I'm not sure, though this could be a function of McCain's support among older voters. In the Midwest, Obama runs better than Kerry did, but much of this is probably due to his running up big margins in his home state of Illinois. Finally, Obama is performing much better in the West than Kerry did. This is probably the result of his better numbers among Latinos, but also his surprising strength in usually Republican areas of the Mountain West like Colorado, Nevada, and Montana.

Let me close with a plea to the nice people at Gallup--please keep providing these demographic breakdowns on a regular basis.  They aren't that hard to do, plus they give election junkies like me lots to chew on.

No comments: