By Michael Collins
The presidential election in 2012 is probably a done deal, barring some calamity that the Obama administration fails to spin in its direction.
The exit polling for the two major primaries so far, Florida and Michigan, show that the Republican vote is concentrated primarily in the suburbs. 62% of Michigan Republican voters and 59% of Florida Republican voters are from the suburbs. That’s 13 and 10 points respectively over the 49% share of the electorate in the 2008 presidential election. Of equal or greater importance, 13% and 25% of the Republican votes came from urban areas (large and medium sized cities). That’s below the 30% share of voters from urban areas in 2008.
In 2008, Obama won 53% to 46%. His 2012 share of urban voters is not likely to diminish. One could argue that any of the current field of Republican candidates would struggle to hit McCain’s 35% urban share. The suburban spit — 50% to 48% Obama — may shift somewhat depending on how well “Halftime in America” sells, i.e. the pseudo recovery. Even if there’s a 5 point shift in suburbia in favor of Republicans, Obama’s urban advantage will carry the day. The rural vote may deliver the same or slightly increased advantage for Republicans. Any changes in this smallest segment of the electorate will be offset by maintenance of the much larger urban advantage.
Republicans will need to resurrect phantom 200 voters in the big cities to win in 2012. They did that effectively in 2004. Doing so again would be too obvious and risky. (Election 2004: The Urban Legend)
It is also important to remember that a good deal of Obama’s disadvantages have been discounted already. The criticisms are well known. The Republican nominee will not be a well-known national figure, other than in name. The exposition of that candidate will reflect the extremist positions taken in the primaries and the impressions from the Republican convention. Defections from any initial support of any Republican nominee will be incremental over course the campaign. As moderate and independent voters initially inclined to vote Republican discover just how extreme the candidate is, they will either switch to Obama or stay home.
Given the weak support for everyone running for president, turnout may drop below 50%.
At this point, thanks to the Republican candidates and the party in general, the election is Obama’s to lose.
With that nonsense out of the way, realty may well hit and we will see much more visible manifestations of the economic collapse underway. Any doubts about that collapse will dissipate when viewing the real unemployment figures.
N.B. If you are wondering about the electoral college, factor in the insanity of Virginia Republicans and the impact of the female vote across the country. That should be enough for an Obama win in a few of the marginal states.
This post may be reproduced with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.