Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting Supporters to the Polls

Reporters and pollsters tend to talk about percentages when they talk about elections.  But real politicians talk about numbers.  They know that the name of the game is getting people enthusiastic enough to get out to the polls and vote.

Obviously there are two sides to this equation.  You want your supporters to be enthusiastic and you want their enthusiasm to rub off on the swing voters.  You also want the opposition to be demoralized so they won't bother to vote.

A look at the recent presidential elections in the US shows this enthusiasm at work.  Let's get the vote numbers from  First the Democratic vote.

Presidential popular vote in millions
Election Year198019841988199219962000200420082012
Dem Vote35.537.641.844.945.651.059.069.565.6

Now let's look at the Republican presidential vote over the same period.

Presidential popular vote in millions
Election Year198019841988199219962000200420082012
Rep Vote43.954.548.939.137.850.562.059.960.9

The politicians are right. It is the total vote count that is really interesting.  If you look at the Democratic vote, it has steadily increased every year since 1980, except for one.  The big years were the 2000s when the Dems went from 51 million in 2000 to 69.5 million in Obama's great year, 2008.  But then Obama lost 4 million votes in his reelection.

The Republican vote is different.  It has seesawed up and down.  It peaked at 54.5 million in Ronald Reagan's Morning in America year of 1984.  Then it dived down into the 30s, with the terrible elections in the 1990s when Ross Perot split the conservative vote.  But under George W. Bush and his "architect" Karl Rove the GOP vote almost doubled to 62 million in 2004.  Since then it has flatlined at about 60 million.

How did the Democrats manage their extraordinary climb from 35 million in 1980 to 70 million in 2008?  I'd say it has been mostly hard work, identifying supporters and building the infrastructure to get them out to vote, and also making it easier to vote, with Motor Voter and absentee voting.

What's the story with Republicans?  Is the flatline a temporary pause, or are Republicans just running out of white people?

Back before the election I estimated that the Dems would lose 5 million votes and the Republicans would gain 5 million.  Well I was half right.  The Dems lost most of the 5 million I prophesied.  But the campaign of Mitt Romney failed to pick up the 5 million it needed.

Maybe the only hope for Republicans is that Barack Obama is busily minting new Republicans as he fails to ignite the economy, year after year, with his redistributive economics.

1 comment:

  1. Romney failed to interest, much less ignite, the majority of conservatives. Not Republicans, conservatives. The two are not necessarily the same. Many, such as myself, have left the Republican Party in disgust because they are too wishy-washy and we have seen a re-brith of what Goldwater, and later Regan, called "Me-Too Repbublicanism." It is either time for a try conservative to step up to the plate in the Republican Party, or to form a new party.