Barack Obama secured re-election by maintaining the coalition that gave him victory four years ago: black and Hispanic voters, young Americans, women and Americans with post-graduate degrees. These outnumbered Mitt Romney’s supporters among white men, older Americans and people who have not been to college.
This emerges clearly from analysis of YouGov’s major survey of 36,000 Americans during the final week of the campaign. This showed Obama leading Romney by 51-49% among Americans who supported one or other of the two men. It will take some days, and possibly weeks, for the count to be completed; however, it looks as if the final tally will produce figures within 0.5% of these. (Indeed, all of YouGov’s figures for the past month remained close to the result; other pollsters converged on our figures in their final surveys.)
YouGov’s state-by-state projections called the right victor in every state with one possible exception. At the time of writing, Obama looks likely to win Florida narrowly. We reported a one-point lead for Mitt Romney – wrong call but, statistically, well inside the margin of error.
The size of our final survey allows us to look at different groups of Americans in some detail. They show a country not only divided by race, but far more divided than Britain by age and gender. If we omit the small number of don’t knows and supporters of minor candidates, here is how the vote divided.
No college education
Some college education
The contrasts with Britain are striking.
For example, there is a 20-point gender gap in America (contrasting Romney’s 8% lead among men with Obama’s 12% lead among women). In Britain, when we aggregate YouGov’s October surveys, yielding a total sample of more than 34,000 electors, the gap is a single percentage point.
Or consider the generation gap. In the US it amounts to 54 points (Obama held a 30% lead mong the under 30s, while Romney led by 24% among the over 65s). In Britain the gap is less than half that (Labour is 19% ahead among the under 30s, while the Tories lead by 4% among the over 65s.)
Although the polls generally performed well in this election, the same cannot be said of all commentators. Some on the American Right failed draw the distinction between legitimate support for Romney’s values and bogus analysis of the state of the race. Here, without comment, are some examples from the final stages of the campaign.
‘Barack Obama is toast… The waterfront of analyzing all the factors that go into my conclusion here is too large to cover in one post, but the signs of Obama’s defeat are too clear now to ignore. Given all the available information – Romney’s lead among independents, the outlier nature of the 2008 turnout model, the elections held since 2008, the party ID surveys, the voter registration, early voting and absentee ballot data – I have to conclude that there is no remaining path at this late date for Obama to win the national popular vote. Mitt Romney will be the 45th President of the United States.’ – Dan McLaughlin, Red State Blog (‘Powerful Conservative voices’), October 26.
‘It comes down to numbers. And in the final days of this presidential race, from polling data to early voting, they favor Mitt Romney... In addition to the data, the anecdotal and intangible evidence—from crowd sizes to each side's closing arguments—give the sense that the odds favor Mr. Romney. They do. My prediction: Sometime after the cock crows on the morning of Nov. 7, Mitt Romney will be declared America's 45th president.’ - Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, Wall Street Journal, November 1.
‘Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That's bad news for Barack Obama… Most voters oppose Obama's major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery… Just about every indicator suggests that Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting -- and about their candidate -- than they were in 2008, and Democrats are less so… Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223.’ – Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, Washington Examiner, November 2.
‘I am not willing to take polls at face value anymore. I am more interested in connecting the polls to history and the long-run structure of American politics, and when I do that I see a Romney victory. ‘ – Jay Cost, author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic and staff writer for the Weekly Standard, November 2.
‘Prediction: Romney 325, Obama 213. Yup. That’s right. A landslide for Romney approaching the magnitude of Obama’s against McCain. That’s my prediction. On Sunday, we changed our clocks. On Tuesday, we’ll change our president. Romney will win the states McCain carried in 2008, plus: Florida, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In the popular vote, Romney will win by more than 5 points.’ – Dick Morris, former adviser to Bill Clinton and commentator for Fox News; DickMorris.com, November 5.