What the election turns on: turn-out

(Note: in reply to Andrew B., a reader points out that the candidate himself does not work on such things as turnout.)

Andrew B. writes:

You may recall my missive about getting out the vote several weeks ago. Elections are of course won by turning out more voters than your opponent, and presidential elections by doing so in multiple key states that will lead to an electoral college majority.

While Romney and his teams spent a precious month on the election theory of winning by being a smooth debater, Obama and his team have been campaigning to get out the vote, identifying voters and now starting to get them to the polls or get mail-in-ballots in their hands.

Since 1980, the Democrats have increased their vote total by at least 5.5 percent in every election, and the average increase has been greater. As Obama got 69.5 million votes in 2008, one has to assume that the Democrats are going to turn out a minimum of 73 million voters in 2012. Karl Rove drove to the polls 11 million new Republican voters in 2000 and 2004 and barely won each election. In 2008, the Republican turnout fell from 62 to 60 million. To win, Romney is going to need a target of around 74-75 million voters, an increase of 25 percent over 2008, and these voters will need to be proportionately more prevalent in swing states. Republicans have never made that sort of increase in turnout except after the elimination of a 3rd party candidate from a previous election—Wallace, Anderson, or Perot.

right now, Romney’s target is a repeat of 2000 or 2004 for the margin, with a ceiling of 291 electoral votes by winning Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Nevada. With this map, he must win Florida. If he loses Ohio, the only other state he can afford to lose is New Hampshire. Even if wins Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia, he still loses unless he can flip one of the four small states. He can’t afford any surprise losses like Missouri, Montana, Georgia, or Arizona, or a repeat of losing Indiana.

Wasting focus of the campaign on debating given the tough road ahead is not going to win the election.

- end of initial entry -

A reader who works as an election polster writes:

Andrew B.’s analysis is mathematically correct, but his interpretation is wrong. Romney’s campaign stated many months ago that their strategy was precisely this, to win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana (states McCain lost) plus any one of the other swing states Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, or Nevada. (Wisconsin is also a winnable state that would suffice, and a “surprise win” in another Obama state is more likely than a “surprise loss” in Montana, Missouri, Georgia, or Arizona.) They have been following this strategy effectively, and I am quite confident they will win Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, and fairly confident of Ohio and Florida, according to my own interpretation of the polling data.

It is ridiculous to imagine that the Romney campaign is not capable of having individuals not named Mitt Romney working on the details of “getting out the vote” while Romney himself prepares for debates.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 08, 2012 12:00 PM | Send

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