The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Nov 102012

Three further thoughts about ’12, in no particular order.

First, I mentioned that the positive correlation between voter age and Romney share definitely showed up, as predicted. Without exception, every age bracket identified by the exit polls had a higher Romney share than the age bracket beneath it and a lower Romney share than the age bracket above it.

Yet there is one particular age-cleft that I have often discussed in past posts and that I would like to highlight here: the stark contrast between first-wave Xers in their 40s (more conservative, came age with Reagan) and last-wave Xers in their 30s (more progressive, came of age with Clinton).  In the following table, I list the additional share of each age group that went to Romney as you move to each older age group:

Note that the jump in the preference for the GOP from last- to first-wave Gen Xers is larger by far than between any other two adjacent age brackets.  Last-wave Xers voted for Obama by 55 to 42 percent.  First-wave Xers voted for Romney by 50 to 48 percent. That’s an 8-point swing.

If the exit poll had a finer-grained measure of the Boomer age brackets, we might even be able to detect a backward bend toward Obama as you move from first-wave Xers in their late 40s to first-wave Boomers in their late 60s.  We’ve often seen that in prior elections and party ID surveys.

Second, I’ve read some excellent reader answers (both in comments and by emails) to the questions I raised about the stunning swing of Asians to Obama. More than one reader pointed out that it may be less due to any special Asian animus against Romney and more with their special attraction to Obama. If so, this may pose special problems for the Democrats in 2016, especially if they go with someone older and whiter. Morley Winograd told me that the Asian swing took him by surprise as well. He thinks part it was partly due to very well organized get-out-the-vote campaigns among young minorities, Asians especially, and the effective use of social media. Many Gangnam-style vote videos went viral, and several have been posted on youtube.  Let me show one of them here (from Atlanta’s Asian-American Legal Advocacy Center):

Third, one reader made the interesting observation that however well Romney did among whites overall, Obama still managed to take a number of white-dominated New England states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. A great point, because the flip side is that outside New England and the blue-zone coasts, and especially in the red-zone south, the state-wide white shares for the GOP are even more lopsided, in the 65 to 75 percent range.  It’s hard to say exactly, because the exit-poll media consortium chose not to include any deep-south states.  But if you look at many of the more rural counties in Texas, for example, you find most of them are 80+ percent for Romney, which may translate into close to 90 percent whites for Romney.

When I occasionally talked to friends in Texas earlier this year, some were amazed that Obama might be re-elected since they literally did not know anyone who intended to vote for him. I know others in blue-zone enclaves who have felt the same amazement, in reverse.

I find this growing alignment of geography and ideology to be a very disturbing trend as America moves further into a 4T. There was much talk in ’08 about the emergence of a “purple” America.  What I see, in ’12, is redder reds is some parts and bluer blues in others.  Could political regionalism or outright separatism be looming in our not-too-distant future?  While many of us may think we already resolved that issue in the 1860s, my late co-author Bill Strauss had his doubts and once even wrote a futuristic novel about a dis-integrated America. Let us hope we never go there.

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