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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- For The Week Ending November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

“One of the strangest aspects of Election 2012 is that voters are demanding change but didn't change politicians. They left Republicans in charge of the House, elected an even more Democratic Senate and re-elected President Obama. They're unhappy with the status quo in the country but left the political status quo in place.” That’s how Scott Rasmussen described the results in his weekly newspaper column.  He added that “voters basically threw the same kids back in the room and told them to clean up the mess they've created.”

Now that the election is over, most voters (55%) want the Republicans in Congress to work with the president. However, eight-out-of-ten Republicans disagree and want their representatives to stand for what they believe in rather than compromise. The president is not the only one likely to have trouble with GOP voters. Most Republicans think their representatives in Washington are out of touch with the party’s base.

On Election Day, President Obama won re-election by turning a modest popular vote majority into a solid Electoral College victory. Both the president and Mitt Romney won every state they were projected to win by Rasmussen Reports but Obama swept all the Toss-Up states.  While there was a tremendous focus in the national media on Ohio, Scott Rasmussen’s pre-election commentary noted that there was a pre-requisite before Ohio would come into play: “Florida and Virginia are absolute must-win states for the Romney campaign. If the president wins either, the election will be his.”  The president won Virginia, ending Romney’s hopes. Florida still has not been formally decided but the president has a slight advantage.

Our final daily presidential tracking poll showed Romney at 49% and Obama at 48%. Instead, the president got 50% of the vote and Romney 48%. We were disappointed that our final results were not as close to the final result as they had been in preceding elections. There was a similar pattern in the state polls. For example, in Ohio we projected a tie at 49% but the president reached 50% of the vote and the challenger got just 48%. Although every individual result in the battleground states was within the margin of error, the numbers we projected were consistently a bit more favorable for Romney than the actual results.

A preliminary review indicates that one reason for this is that we underestimated the minority share of the electorate. In 2008, 26% of voters were non-white. We expected that to remain relatively constant. However, in 2012, 28% of voters were non-white. That was exactly the share projected by the Obama campaign. It is not clear at the moment whether minority turnout increased nationally, white turnout decreased, or if it was a combination of both. The increase in minority turnout has a significant impact on the final projections since Romney won nearly 60% of white votes while Obama won an even larger share of the minority vote.

Another factor may be related to the generation gap. It is interesting to note that the share of seniors who showed up to vote was down slightly from 2008 while the number of young voters was up slightly. Pre-election data suggested that voters over 65 were more enthusiastic about voting than they had been four years earlier so the decline bears further examination.

The election results are the primary topics for this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks with Scott Rasmussen. Scott is joined by Democratic pollster Bernard Whitman, Yahoo!News White House correspondent Olivier Knox, and conservative analyst Bethany Blankley. Knox said that the Obama campaign was simply better than the Romney campaign at the mechanics of getting their people to the polls. The show airs this Saturday and Sunday on more than 60 stations nationwide.

In other polling this week:

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Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

Remember, if it's in the news, it's in our polls.

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