The results of the presidential election revealed a few things that might be relevant to New York City. We have taken this analysis from the exit polls and other surveys. Undoubtedly, the analysis is a preliminary “something to think about.”
Among the reasons for Obama’s victory and Romney’s defeat are: the bad repute of Wall Street; Romney's inability to combine economic and social issues into a believable whole; Obama's likeability; Obamacare; Obama's national security competence; Sandy; evidence of the beginning of economic recovery.
Presidential vote analysis:
- The bad repute of Wall Street certainly affects us here in New York City. Religious congregations and ministries with a high percent of members from Wall Street should take pause at this message from the voters.
More than ½ of the electorate said Romney would favor the rich; 43% said Obama’s policies will be good for the middle class. Americans don’t mind the rich being rich, but they seem to think Wall Streeters never repented and can’t be trusted to go beyond their own interests. Obama’s ad campaign effectively tapped this sentiment.
- The inability of Romney to combine economic and social issues into a believable whole. Consequently, the margin in favor of Romney among White non-Hispanic Protestants and Catholics was not large enough in states like Virginia and Ohio.
- Obama’s likeability. The candidate’s integrity, niceness and how he handles his family matter to the public. In various polls we see that a majority of people in all demographic and religious groups like Obama personally, and they like his way of relating to his family.
- Obamacare. 18% of the electorate said that this was important reason for their vote. Romney was unable to appeal to the majority of public who don’t like some aspects of Obamacare. Romney also didn’t make any appeal to the debate over the religious freedom issues raised by Obamacare (whether some faith-based organizations can get an exception to the contraception and abortion requirements).
- Obama’s national security competence. 5% said reason for vote was foreign policy. To many Americans Obama has proved to be a tough military commander. Romney’s attacks on cuts in military spending got no resonance among anyone except defense contractors. There continues to be high antagonism to Bush’s Iraq policies. We guess Obama doesn’t seem to have lost many anti-war votes.
- Sandy. 40% said this was an important or very important reason for voting for Obama. Obama’s performance was seen as a contrast to Bush’s and FEMA’s performance during Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s former head of FEMA made an idiotic criticism that Obama had acted too fast during Hurricane Sandy. Also, Sandy stopped a trend toward Romney in last few weeks.
In NYC we judge mayors by how fast they direct the recovery from a storm or snowstorm. On the one hand, this is a competence issue. But there is also a moral dimension on how much we can trust the mayor and does he care for people like us or our neighborhood. These issues come to the fore among religious leaders also. In our survey of over 1200 NYC religious leaders it was notable that in areas of dirty streets and messy trash the religious leaders cited this as one of the top things that they would handle if they were mayor of NYC.
- Evidence of beginning of economic recovery. 88% who said that they felt that the economy is improving voted for Obama. 59% said the economy and unemployment was top reason for vote.
- Independents switched back to the GOP. Romney won 58% of the independents. So, the independent vote wasn’t factor in Obama’s victory. The Obama campaign ran a “base election,” ignoring independents. This was a successful strategy.
- Hispanics made a big difference in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. There were not enough Hispanics to determine this national election. However, in NYC, Hispanics are important factor in local elections; 79% favored Obama; and anti-immigrant views are not popular in here.
- White non-Hispanic male voters in Ohio didn’t break enough for Romney.
Obama lost young white non-Hispanic males but not as much as in rest of country.
Obama lost white, non-Hispanic male Catholic voters in Ohio but not as much as rest of country
Romney won proportionally fewer born-again Christians than he did in other states. For example, in Ohio he won the support of 69% of born-again Christians but in Florida he did better at 79%.
- Virginia. Faith played a role in Obama’s victory (if current counts hold up). Romney needed 4% more of the white non-Hispanic women, 4% more of white non-Hispanic men or 4% of the very religious Christians (attend ch 1+/week).
He only got 54% of active church goers, lower than national average. This likely is partly the result of the African American vote (20% of electorate in VA). 61% of Virginia voters are White non-Hispanic Protestant, 15% Catholic.
White non-Hispanic women make up 37% of electorate and voted 58% for Romney, and white non-Hispanic men voted 63% for Romney. Both of these figures are low compared to national averages.
All religious groups and segments dislike VA governor’s ultra-sound requirement for pre-abortion examinations. Maybe, this sentiment impacted the White non-Hispanic religious vote.
African Americans increased their share of the Virginia vote to 20%. However, they were never were going to vote against Obama.
- Romney lost many White Hispanic voters and the evangelical Hispanic voters. But that didn’t make a national difference.
- Rise of Asian American voter switching. Obama increased his share differential from 27 points to 49 points. However, the demographic is too small to have an effect on vote total.
Muslims in 2000 and Asian American evangelicals 2000 voted for Bush. However, we suspect that these two groups switched in significant numbers to Obama. The Asian Americans are a relatively young leadership cohort that will be important to religious groups in the future.
- The moderate GOP lost. Romney was a classic GOP moderate with an incoherent platform that changed according to which election he was in. Consequently, he lost moderate-conservative women.
- Obama’s ground game was indeed better than Romney’s ground game. With a relatively low voter turnout the ground game to turn out the base assumed greater importance.