Friday, October 10, 2008

White Voters in the South: North Carolina

This is the North Carolina section of our report on how shifts in the white vote relative to 2004 can explain most of Barack Obama's surprising success this year in the traditionally red southern states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. You can read the whole thing (with all the data included in chart form) here.
First look at North Carolina. George W. Bush won there by 12 points in 2004, but PPP’s most recent poll shows Barack Obama with a six point advantage.

In 2004 black turnout accounted for approximately 19% of the vote*, and the exit poll shows John Kerry winning 85-14 with that group. That accounts for a 13.5% advantage as part of the overall vote.

PPP estimates that African Americans this year in North Carolina will account for 21% of the electorate, the same share that they comprise of registered voters. Currently Obama has a 92-4 lead with this group, giving him an 18.5% advantage as part of the overall vote.

That means Obama has picked up roughly five points based on increased black turnout and support for the Democratic candidate compared to 2004. But he’s polling right now 18 points better in the state than John Kerry did. Where’s all that extra support coming from?

Among the 78% of the electorate that was white in 2004 George W. Bush won roughly 67-33, accounting for a 26.5% lead as part of the overall vote. Subtract Kerry’s 13.5% margin based on the black vote combined with his one point edge among the small non-white, non-black segment of the population and you get Bush’s 12 point victory overall.

We expect the white vote this year to decrease to 76% because of increased turnout from black voters. In our most recent survey John McCain had a 56-38 lead with these voters, which gives him a 13.5% lead among white voters as part of the overall vote.

That’s a 13 point reduction of the deficit for the Democrat among white voters compared to 2004. So while Obama’s 5% increase from black voters is important, 2/3rds of his improved standing can be attributed to shifts in voting preferences among whites in North Carolina at this point.

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