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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?

October 25, 2012

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.”


“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.”

“Obama’s campaign has predicated their victory on their better ground effort, so I sure hope it is.”

“This is one of the great reversals in modern political history—it looked like Rove’s turnout operation would help cement durable Republican majorities. But Chicago found a way to catch up and surpass them at their own game.”

“[Campaign manager] Jim Messina is an old ‘field monkey’ from way back, and the Obama campaign has been building its field capacity from the get-go.”

“While Mitt was wasting his money fighting with Rick [Perry], then Herman [Cain], then Newt [Gingrich], then Rick [Santorum], Obama was building a grassroots juggernaut. Now we’re about to see how well it flies.”

“Why do you think Republicans have spent so much money and political capital suppressing the vote?”


“It’s a year to move pissed-off constituencies, and the Republicans own them.”



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


Democrats: 42%
Republicans: 58%


“Democrats are culturally better at this due to labor and civil-rights roots—but Romney’s ground game is best I’ve ever seen for Republicans.”

“They have been at it longer and harder, and their approach is in-person compared to the more traditional phone and mail effort on the Republican side.”

“Democrats mobilize interest groups, who are easier to put on a bus.”

“Obama had no primary, so they have had the luxury of building a ground game for two years. Momentum, however, often trumps boots on the ground.”

“While the incumbent likely has the advantage here, the GOP is already way ahead of its efforts in 2008.”

“Super PAC ads are not a replacement for boots on the ground.”

“Our business allies run commercials. Their union allies knock on doors. Which would you rather have?”


“Democrats didn’t invent get-out-the-vote; they just talk about it incessantly.”

“Watch Wisconsin go Romney-Ryan. The Republicans can thank the Walker recall move by labor for the victory.”

“The unions don’t appear to have close to the ground game they did last time.”

“If we have nationwide Chicago-style voting, all bets are off. But if only real voters vote in the post-ID age, the GOP’s operation will be stronger.”

“Republicans and Romney have caught up and surpassed the vaunted Obama turnout operation.”

“Unions are being forced to cough up hundreds of millions [of dollars] for TV ads. The big question is: Will Obama’s massive investment in social-media organizing replace union foot soldiers?”

“Ground game is only as good as voter intensity. Republicans have it. Democrats are scattered and dispirited.”


Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

This article appeared in print as "Political Insiders Poll."

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