We have all read about the analyses of the election. It has been said that Romney and the Republicans lost because the electorate tuned out to be more diverse than they had expected, and that Obama and the Democrats won because of the vote of minorities, especially Hispanics. To this you probably have to add the famous Romney leaked comment about the 47% of Americans that support Obama, or Romney’s disastrous implementation of project Orca on Election Day. There was also the issue of the bruising Republican primary which left Romney with very little cash making him devote his time to fundraising while Obama was pounding the airwaves in swing states with ads defining Romney in a negative fashion. Finally we have Romney’s recent analysis that Obama won because he gave gifts to voters.
Regardless of the merits of all these explanations, I spotted something interesting in the number of votes for president and how they changed from the past election to this one (caveat: the final vote tallies for 2012 have not yet been officially certified).
Popular Vote 2008 Popular Vote 2012 Difference
Obama: 69,498,215 Obama: 62,284,362 -7,213,853
McCain: 59,948,240 Romney: 58,906,319 -1,041,921
Other: 1,947,535 Other: 1,946,418 -1,117
Total: 131,393,990 Total: 123,137,099 -8,256,891
In the last column you can see some numbers that are negative for both parties. From 2008 to 2012 Obama lost 7,213,853 votes. These votes did not go to third party candidates (Other) because the tally from 2008 to 2012 remained more or less the same. If these votes Obama lost had gone to Romney, we can say with confidence that he would have won at least the popular vote and probably the election. But here is the thing; these votes didn’t go to Romney either. In fact Romney received fewer votes than John McCain received in 2008! So clearly this time around there were millions of people that were disillusioned enough with Obama to not vote for him but still unconvinced enough to grant their vote to Romney. What happened to these 7 million plus voters and more importantly, who are they? Are they an identifiable group or do they represent a cross section of the American public? A certain number of these voters probably died, but this is an unlikely explanation as to why they vanished altogether.
All the analyses I have read are based on the makeup of the population that cast their votes. The pundits point out that both Romney and Obama were supported strongly by their traditional constituencies, but no one seems to be discussing anything about the voters from the past election who did not vote in this one. I think that Republicans should be asking who these voters are, and why if they didn't vote for Obama they also didn't vote for Romney. Likewise, Democrats should also be concerned about losing more than 7 million votes from one election to another because this results in a much closer race making it possible for a Republican candidate with the right mix of charisma and campaign strategy to win.
The above is of course only my opinion. What do you think?
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