Minority Central

November 5, 2012
The divided nature of the U.S. has been a constant theme in the 2012 presidential campaign with the discussion of gaps, divides and splits in the electorate driving much of the coverage. By now political watchers can recite the demographic advantages of each candidate by rote. President Obama holds a massive lead among African Americans and Hispanics – plus-87 percentage points and plus-46 points respectively in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney holds the upper hand with white voters (plus-17 points) and huge edge with white evangelicals (plus-68 points). But as Tuesday approaches, the bigger issue is who will actually shows up on Election Day. The two campaigns and their surrogates have different beliefs of who that will be, of course, with the Obama team expecting a big diverse electorate and the Romney campaign expecting a smaller, and whiter group. Who’s right? The recent past may offer some clues...
October 15, 2012
Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. In a close election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states. To get an idea of who’s ahead in the registration game, Politics Counts looked at the tallies in key states where voters register as Democrats or Republicans – Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. We then compared those figures to previous voter registration counts in 2008 and 2004. Who’s winning? That depends on the state you look at and the...
October 10, 2012
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, unemployment has driven much of the national conversation, and with good reason. Even as the stock market has recovered, the struggles of ordinary Americans in the job market continues, with the latest unemployment report showing the jobless rate finally dipping below 8 percent for the first time since early 2009. But what does the unemployment conversation look like? While the national media and campaign rhetoric often boil the issue down to numbers or anecdotes, it is a much broader topic that carries with it a host of different concerns and fears in people — losing one's pension, losing one's home, losing one's future. To get an understanding of just how different those conversations are, the Jefferson Institute analyzed 20 months' worth of blogs, news stories and story comments in communities around the country, focusing on three crucial presidential swing states: Florida, Ohio and Virginia. We combed...
July 26, 2012
We recently finished a national survey of 1,009 registered voters. Among the questions were items designed to tap voter preferences for the type of candidate (minority, woman, moderate or religious conservative, Mitt Romney should pick as VP. It seems fairly clear from the data, the Romney would be best served by picking a moderate vice president. There are several reasons to treat the findings with caution.   First, we are referring to types of candidates (minority, woman, moderate, or religious conservative) and not to specific individuals. There is a parallel to this type of question and questions asking about generic Republicans or Democrats where respondents can read a preferred candidate (or stereotype) into the question. Second, ideological terms can themselves be problematic. In highly partisan and polarized era, what exactly is a moderate? Or people responding to an understanding based on issues and ideology? Probably not. Third, majorities across each type...
July 16, 2012
There are many fronts on the modern political battlefield. There is the ground war – knocking on doors and making phone calls. There is the air war with radio and television ads. And there is the increasingly important cyber war waged online. In 2008 the Obama campaign set the standard for that online war. With micro-targeting and social media outreach they owned the Web. And thus far into 2012, it appears the Internet is still a strength for President Barack Obama. Data from the firm Experian Hitwise show that on a weekly basis barackobama.com draws far more visitors than mittromney.com, often by margins of four or five to one. The most recent set of figures, for the week ended July 7, showed Mr. Obama’s site garnered 1.76 million visits, while the site for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney saw about 476,000. The week ended June 23 Mr. Obama’s site had 2.47 million visits compared to the Romney site’s 265,000. One has to be careful when calculating...
May 9, 2012
What's the significance of President Obama's evolution on gay marriage? In terms of policy, probably not much. He made clear in his interview with ABC News that he still considers the issue one for the states to resolve. But in an election year, the political impact could be much bigger. Across the 12 county types in Patchwork Nation, there are very different reactions to the issue. As we've noted in more in-depth reporting, some county types -- the wealthy Monied 'Burbs, collegiate Campus and Careers, and big city Industrial Metropolis -- believe by wide margins that homosexuality as a lifestyle should be accepted by society. Others - like the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, Mormon Outposts and African American heavy Minority Central counties -- feel strongly that it should be discouraged. A recent Pew Research Center poll broken into Patchwork Nation's 12 county types offers some clues about what Obama's announcement could mean on...
May 2, 2012
With six months to go until Election Day, the 2012 presidential contest is only now beginning to take shape. In the coming days the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will ramp up in the fight to sway voters. Judging by the looks of a recent Pew Research Center poll analyzed through the Patchwork Nation geographic and demographic breakdown of counties, Romney has some work ahead of him. Unseating an incumbent president, even in hard economic times, is not an easy task. And both the Pew Research Center and Patchwork Nation numbers show Romney has challenges at both ends of the income spectrum, as well as in urban and more rural areas. There is still a very long way to go in the race. For many voters, the election season hasn't really started. But if May marks the beginning of a more focused phase of the campaign, the Romney team has different sets of voters it needs to win over. They exist in different places and...
April 30, 2012
If you were searching for a one-word description for the American electorate in 2012, or even in the past few elections, “volatile” would almost certainly be on your short list. Looking at the results from the recent elections is enough to give you a case of whiplash. Big Democratic wins in 2006 and 2008 gave way to a GOP landslide in 2010 and it all sets the table for what most believe will be a close presidential race this fall. Those are some serious mood swings, but they’re not completely surprising when you consider the economic troubles that have been rocking the U.S. in recent years. Volatile times make for volatile voters – and that is particularly true it seems for some places. Working with data from the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Patchwork Nation has broken its 12 county types into three broader groups – Core Democratic Counties, Core Republican Counties and Competitive Counties. Month-to-month numbers slow fluctuations in all...
April 2, 2012
Publicly, at least, Americans try to avoid stereotyping their fellow citizens based on race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, age or religion. Doing so has become unacceptable, offensive to modern sensibilities, anathema to the notion that we’re all individuals, not just members of one or another demographic. This attitude is codified in our laws and enforced in our workplaces, and violating it is frowned upon in polite conversation. Two arenas are the exceptions. One is reality television, which has found a cash cow in the reductionist treatment of everyone from “little people” to “rednecks.” The other exception? Election season. Every two years — and especially every four, when we’re electing a president — individual Americans disappear, and we become subsumed into some larger group. Go to your favorite political blog, cable news channel or daily paper, and you’ll learn that candidates need to do better with...
March 16, 2012
The results from Tuesday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries were not even fully tabulated when attention turned to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The results, second-place in both states, were a blow to Mr. Gingrich, who had argued his path to the nomination led through the South. But in his concession speech, the candidate quickly tamped down any speculation about his exiting the race and pledged, again, to fight on to the Republican convention in Tampa. Still, vows to fight on aside, Mr. Gingrich’s struggles raise questions about his role in the race going forward and about what would happen if he dropped out – or simply fell into irrelevance. Many assume that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum would gain the most, by giving conservative voters one only option at the ballot box, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would face a stiff new challenge. Mr. Santorum clearly feels that way and this week said he’s earned the right to a...