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Demography as Destiny Demography as Destiny

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Demography as Destiny

Which demographic groups do Insiders see as key to the presidential race? And how do the Insiders assess their party’s ground game?

Which two of these groups will be most critical to your presidential nominee’s chances on Election Day?


African-Americans: 26%
Blue-collar whites: 19%
College-educated white women: 41%
Hispanics: 70%
Seniors: 12%
Young people: 24%



“If the presidential race comes down to four states—Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Nevada—a huge turnout of African-American and Latino voters will be key.”

Blue-collar whites


“The white, blue-collar voters in Ohio who have been lured by the right wing on social issues will break for Obama on the pragmatism of the economy, providing the electoral margin for victory.”

College-educated white women

“Infuriated by Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, and ‘binders,’ they will provide the passion and turnout in several swing states.”

“Women and Hispanics are directly threatened by Romney’s potential policies and must give the president overwhelming margins.”



“Election Day is all about turning out the base vote. Blacks and Hispanics have continued to register in record numbers, and that may be the big story, postelection.”

“African-Americans will turn out [come] hell or high water, but other groups—Hispanics and young people—in the coalition that elected Obama in 2008 are iffy.”

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“If seniors break POTUS’s way and young people turn out, POTUS wins going away.”

Young people

“Turnout, turnout, turnout.”



Which two of these groups will be most critical to your presidential nominee’s chances on Election Day?


African-Americans: 0%
Blue-collar whites: 65%
College-educated white women: 52%
Hispanics: 11%
Seniors: 48%
Young people: 8%

Blue-collar whites

“We need whatever current version of the ‘Reagan Democrats’ is to come out to vote, and we need young people to realize the Change They Hoped For has failed them.”

“With no chance at closing the gap with Hispanic voters, the Romney campaign must throw a near-perfect game with white voters.”

College-educated white women

“The GOP can’t win elections by getting 125 percent of white middle-aged men. Until we get better, we need to keep the president’s margins down with everyone else.”

“Romney is making a recovery among college-educated white suburban women. This is crucial to his victory, along with a strong turnout among seniors.”

“Romney must be competitive among suburban women while running up the score among blue-collar whites.”

“The real answer is married women.”


“Romney could have done a lot more to minimize the damage with Hispanics, but economic angst may save the day for him.”


“Seniors will discredit the Democrats’ scare tactics on Medicare.”

“Romney can only win with a huge margin among seniors.”

Young people

“The young people who are suffering in this economy are going to be far more likely to give Mitt Romney his chance.”



Which party has the better ground game in the presidential race?


Democrats: 98%
Republicans: 2%


“Huge Democratic advantage in the ground game may be the game changer.”

“The Obama campaign will again set the standard, but the GOP has surprising stealth power, as witnessed in the Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin.”

“Team Obama proved in ’08 they know how to mobilize voters, and they’ve been building new tools and road-testing practices over the past three years. They have an army of paid staff in the key states to organize their huge volunteer base. But the Right shouldn’t be underestimated. They’re investing more in the ground game than in ’08.”

 “Democrats have it, but if the voters whose doors they are knocking [on] aren’t fired up, they might as well not knock.”

“This is not 2004, and Romney does not have a Karl Rove. Obama for America never put on the brakes coming into 2009, and their ground game will be tremendous.”

“Look at the number of offices and staff in key states. This is where the rubber hits the road.”

This article appears in the October 27, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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