Election Exit Polls: How Obama Won

Posted on November 8, 2012

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An examination of the exit polls sheds light on how a president facing unemployment near 8 percent, debt topping $16 trillion and mounting questions over the Libya terror attack was able to win a second term in office.

Obama’s win Tuesday night came from a strong showing among core Democratic constituencies, being more likeable than his opponent, and an economy that voters felt is doing well-enough to give him another four years. Also, the president’s response to Hurricane Sandy in the final days of the campaign was an important factor to many voters.

Obama’s key groups made the difference — both in their makeup of the electorate and, for the most part, their strength of support for him.

Non-whites made up 28 percent of the electorate, up a bit from 27 percent in 2008.  This group largely backed Obama:  71 percent of Hispanics (it was 67 percent last time), and 93 percent of blacks (down a touch from 95 percent).

Republican challenger Mitt Romney won among white voters by 20 percentage points.  That’s up from John McCain’s edge of +12 points in 2008.  In addition, the share of votes cast by whites was lower (72 percent) than it has been going back to at least 1992.

Click to read the exit polls.

Young voters were important to giving Obama his first term.  Voters under age 30 showed up again this time:  They represented 19 percent of all voters, one point higher than the 18 percent in 2008.  Even so, they didn’t back him as strongly this time: 60 percent — down six points.

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Young Voters

Obama            60%

Romney          37%

Seniors backed Romney by 56-44 percent, mostly unchanged from 2008.

Meanwhile, more Democrats than Republicans voted, 38-32 percent.  In 2008, Democrats also outnumbered Republicans by 39-32 percent.

Almost all Democrats supported the president (92 percent).  That support was equaled among Republicans for Romney (93 percent).

Forty-five percent of independents backed Obama, down from 52 percent last time.  Half of this swing group preferred Romney (49 percent).

Marital status was a more significant factor than gender this year.  Women, a traditional Democratic voting group, backed Obama by 11 points — about the same as by 13 points in 2008.  Even so, married women backed Romney by 7 points (an improvement from McCain’s +3 showing).

Men backed Romney (52-45 percent), and married men backed him by an even wider margin (60-38 percent).

Romney was successful in energizing his base: conservatives accounted for 35 percent of all voters today, one-point higher than in 2008.  And he captured 82 percent of them (McCain got 78 percent).  White born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the voters today and 78 percent favored Romney (for McCain it was 74 percent).

In addition, white Catholics went for Romney by a margin of 59-40 percent.  This is a group that has historically backed the winner.

About four voters in 10 say Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy was important to their vote (42 percent), and they backed the president by a better than two-to-one margin.  Fifteen percent said it was the “most important” factor in their vote.

Mood of the Country

Obama’s victory comes despite voter dissatisfaction with how things are going in the country, mediocre economic ratings and a majority opposing his health care plan.

Less than half of voters think the country is headed in the right direction (46 percent).  Fifty-two percent say things are going in the wrong direction.  Still, that’s an improvement from the 75 percent who thought so in 2008.

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Direction of the Country

Right Direction           46%

Wrong Track              52%

For reference, when former President George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, it was 49 percent right direction and 46 percent wrong track.

Voters who said the country is on the right track went for Obama (93-6 percent), while those who said things are going in the wrong direction went solidly for Romney (84-13 percent).

Overall, 23 percent rate the condition of the nation’s economy positively (2 percent “excellent” and 21 percent “good”).  That’s three times as many as the 7 percent who rated it positively in 2008.

Fully 77 percent of voters gave a gloomier assessment (45 percent “not so good” and 31 percent “poor”).

Almost all Republicans (96 percent) and most independents (80 percent) gave the economy a thumbs-down, as did 58 percent of Democrats.

Voters are also divided over whether the economy is getting better or worse (39-30 percent).

Obama benefited from more voters blaming Bush (53 percent) than him (38 percent) for current economic conditions.

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Blame For Current

Economic Problems

Obama            38%

Bush                53%

Click to continue reading via Fox News exit poll summary: Obama’s key groups made the difference | Fox News.

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