This morning, Gallup released a bombshell survey of likely voters this November. It wasn’t a horse race poll, i.e. which candidate is ahead, but rather a look at the underlying demographics that will make up the electorate this November. They slap the survey with a very misleading headline, “2012 U.S. Electorate Looks Like 2008.” While this is true in many respects, it obscures one very big difference. For the first time in a presidential election, more Republicans will vote than Democrats.
In 2008, 54% of likely voters identified as Democrat or lean Democrat. 42% of likely voters identified as GOP or lean GOP. In other words, the electorate, including independents who lean towards a particular party, was D+12. This year, however, the Democrat advantage has disappeared. 49% of likely voters today identify as GOP or lean GOP. Just 46% of likely voters are or lean towards the Democrats. This is a 15-point swing towards the GOP from 2008 to an outright +3 advantage for the GOP. By comparison, in 2004, when Bush won reelection, the electorate was evenly split, with each party getting support from 48% of likely voters.
If these numbers are within even a few points of what this survey suggests, then Romney will win decisively and the GOP will pick up the Senate. We are likely standing on the edge of another GOP wave election.
Keep in mind, the Gallup survey suggests that voter turnout among Obama’s biggest supporters, i.e. minorities and young voters, will generally match 2008 levels. Obama’s problem is that, relatively speaking, there just aren’t that many of these voters. Voters under 30 will make up 13% of the electorate, one point below ’08 and even with ’04. Minorities will make up 20%, up 5 from ’04 and only up 1 point from ’08.
Obama’s chief problem is that everyone else in the electorate has become much more Republican.
Most of the media’s polls anticipate the 2012 electorate looking either as Democrat as 2008 or even more Democrat. Obama’s slim lead in state polls rests on the foundation of a massive Democrat turnout advantage. This Gallup survey, though, puts that lie to rest. If the electorate is actually even or R+ anything, Romney wins in a blowout.