Friday, 09 November 2012 17:54

Did GOP count changing electorate: Hispanics, Gays, Unmarrieds, Asians?

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obama gay militarySince Election Day, there has been abundant chatter about the new American electorate, one that is less traditional, less white and more diverse. No doubt, the Obama campaign's ability to deliver victory by surfing the waves of changing demographics--we used to call this "identity politics"--was impressive.



Historically, there has been plenty of attention focused on African American voter participation, which has been a powerful force in the country's politics for decades. More recently, the growing Hispanic vote has become a hot topic of analysis, as well it should be.

As times change, demography is destiny. We see it in the numbers, and the implications are stark.

When Bill Clinton was elected president, 2 percent of the electorate was Hispanic. This year that number shot up to 10 percent. Put another way, Clinton--who carried the Hispanic vote by 36 points in 1992--racked up a 700,000 vote margin from this group over his Republican opponent. In 2012, Barack Obama carried the Hispanic vote by 44 points and racked up a 5.3 million vote margin over his Republican opponent from this group. That means that over the last 20 years, Republicans have had to find an extra 4.6 million vote advantage among non-Hispanics just to keep up with growing Hispanic support for Democrats.

But the changing dynamics of American politics is not just about the rise of Hispanics. There are three other important groups that have not gotten the attention they deserve in this year's post-election analysis. They are unmarried voters, gays and Asian-Americans.

Four years ago, unmarried voters made up 34 percent of the national electorate. This year, they made up 40 percent--a big jump over a short time. Obama carried this expanding group by 27 percent. Romney, on the flip side, won married voters--a still large, but diminishing, group--by 14 percent.

Self-identified gay voters made up 5 percent of the electorate this year--representing 6 million votes--and Obama received 76 percent of their support. Obama's margin over Romney among gay voters was 3.2 million votes. Considering that Obama won the national popular vote by less than 3 million, it can be said that the votes he won from gays and lesbians put him over the top. Clearly, the president's pre-election shift in favor of same-sex marriage was a shrewd strategic move.

Asian Americans are a rapidly growing component of the U.S.

population. They have the highest level of educational attainment and median household income of any racial group in the nation. Four years ago, they represented 2 percent of the voting public. This year, it was 3 percent--which translates to 3.6 million votes cast. Over time, Democratic support within this group has dramatically increased. In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton lost Asian Americans to Republican George H. W. Bush by a hefty 24 points. This year, Democrat Obama beat Republican Romney by a whopping 47 points among Asian Americans, a margin representing 1.7 million votes.

News reports tell us that Republican Party officials are planning to do extensive post-election polling and focus groups to get a serious, objective reading on where they stand within this changing electorate. After reviewing the returns, one wonders: Why didn't they do it before the election?


Hilary Clinton 58%

Joe Biden 17%

Andrew Cuomo 6%

Elizabeth Warren 3%

Martin O'Malley <1%

Deval Patrick <1%

Brian Schweitzer <1%

Mark Warner <1%


Mike Huckabee 15%

Paul Ryan 12%

Marco Rubio 12%

Chris Christie 12%

Jeb Bush 11%

Rick Santorum 10%

Condoleezza Rice 9%

Rand Paul 5%

Sarah Palin 4%


* PPP(D), Nov. 3-4


Clarus Research Group is a nonpartisan polling firm based in Washington, D.C., specializing in survey research for businesses, associations, nonprofits and media organizations. For more information, contact Dr. Faucheux at [email protected] or go to our website at

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