GOP is the Party of White Evangelicals
In the wikipedia article on the 2012 presidential election, a section includes the demographic background of voters based on exit polling, so I thought it would be fun to see how big a margin of votes each demographic group gave Obama or Romney (I’m a stat nerd, I know). For example, Democrats made up 38% of the electorate, and gave Obama a 32 point margin over Romney. As one would expect, Obama’s two largest margins came from Democrats and liberals, and Romney’s came from Republicans and conservatives. What I found interesting were the third largest groups for each candidate, which demonstrate just how narrow the GOP’s appeal has become. For Romney, white evangelicals gave him nearly a fifteen point margin over Obama (26% of the electorate which he won 78-21), while Obama got a whopping 17 point margin from everyone who isn’t a white evangelical (74% of the vote which he won 60-37). Romney’s appeal wasn’t to whites in general, but only white evangelicals; everyone who doesn’t belong to that tribe, including non-evangelical whites, voted overwhelmingly for Obama. The GOP’s narrowcasting to a mere quarter of the electorate, which will only shrink in future elections, will doom it to keep losing until a GOP candidate figures out how to reach out to everyone else.
Another interesting discovery was that, despite the postmortem focus on Hispanics, who grew to 10% of the electorate and gave Obama a 4.4 point margin, there were several other groups who made up a larger portion of the Obama coalition (though Hispanics’ heavy presence in swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida magnified their importance). Non-married women gave Obama a better than 8 point margin, just behind african-americans’ 11 point margin for Obama (what war on women?). And surprisingly Atheists made up 12%!* of the electorate, and gave Obama better than a five point margin over Romney. The GOP is paying a heavy price for becoming the party of just one segment of white Christians to the virtual exclusion of everyone else.
*I can only assume the exit pollsters are using the term “Atheist” very broadly to include everyone who doesn’t profess to believe in God, encompassing agnostics and the simply apathetic, as opposed to a narrow definition of those who profess to believe there is no God.