For Romney, three groups stood out. Sixty-five percent of GOP Insiders selected blue-collar whites, 52 percent picked college-educated white women, and 48 percent chose seniors. Other groups, like Hispanics and young people, were far less popular, and African-Americans received zero votes.
Seventy percent of Democratic Insiders picked Latinos as Obama's most important group. Otherwise, the selections were much more diffuse, with college educated white women coming in second at 41 percent.
The White House contest has been marked by a distinct racial polarization in support for both candidates, with Romney attracting as much or more than 60 percent support among whites in some national polls while Obama claims 80 percent or more of the minority vote. Romney runs particularly well among white men and seniors, and some Republicans think his path to victory lies in maintaining that support while ensuring the president doesn't run away with the other groups.
"The GOP can't win elections by getting 125 percent of white middle-aged men," said one Republican Insider. "Until we get better, need to keep the president's margins down with everyone else."
Added another, "Romney is making a recovery among college-educated white suburban women. This is crucial to his victory, along with a strong turnout among seniors."
Obama has worked assiduously to ensure high turnout among African-American and Hispanic voters despite polls showing a relative lack of enthusiasm compared to 2008. Increasing the share of the minority vote in swing states like Nevada and Virginia is at the heart of his plans for re-election.
"Election Day is all about turning out the base vote," said one Democrat. "Blacks and Hispanics have continued to register in record numbers and that may be the big story post-election."
Added another, "African Americans will turn out hell or high water but other groups, Hispanics and young people in the coalition that elected Obama in 2008 are iffy."