Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shifts in West Virginia

Something we're going to be doing with all of our polls for the rest of the campaign is asking respondents who they supported for President in 2004. If people answer that question honestly I think it's a better gauge for measuring shifts in the electorate than comparing our crosstabs to the 2004 exit polls, simply because a) our definitions of things like suburban, rural, etc. might not directly match up with those of the exit polls and b) there were some pretty serious flaws in the state exit polls that I have closely studied from that election so they should by no means be taken as the gospel.

In West Virginia Barack Obama has actually done a pretty good job of cutting Democratic losses from 2004 in the rural areas of the state. Respondents there indicated they supported George W. Bush at a 54-36 clip last time but now they're going for McCain just 50-40, an eight point gain for Obama.

I think this is the big story the media is missing when it so frequently conjures up Obama's increased success in the South almost exclusively to potential high turnout from black and young voters. The reality is that more than anything else it owes to convincing white voters who picked Bush in 2004 to go Democratic this time. In West Virginia, for example, 14% of 2004 Bush voters are now Obama supporters. More on the white voter shifts in our recent report here.

Another trend West Virginia exemplifies is that Obama will benefit considerably from the youth vote whether it makes up a larger proportion of the electorate than it did in 2004 or not. Poll respondents under 30 reported supporting Bush in 2004 44-40. But now they're going 46-41 for Obama. The support he is getting from young voters is not simply a matter of potential greater quantity of young voters than 2004- Obama's popularity with that demographic has a decent number of folks who chose the Republican last time going Democratic this time around.

Of course there is bad news for Obama in these comparisons as well:

-Self identified Democrats voted for John Kerry just 62-31 in 2004 and they're planning to support Obama only 62-29 this year. He would more than likely need to push that figure up beyond 70% if he is going to win the state but right now he appears to be showing little improvement upon Kerry's performance on that front.

-Even as Obama is doing five points better overall than Kerry did in the state in 2004, the Democratic standing with voters over 65 has fallen. Kerry held Bush to a 50-45 win with senior citizens in our poll. McCain is leading 52-41 with that some group of voters. For voters of a certain age there may just be a cultural discomfort with Obama that it will be hard for him to overcome.

We'll poll WV again in a couple weeks to see if these trends are holding.

Full results here.


Anonymous said...

So much for West Virginia. A M-D poll found a similar margin, too.

Any hints for North Carolina?

Tom Jensen said...

Looks like BHO continues to lead in NC.

Mathis said...

Yay, great news for NC! Tom, one thing I'm wondering about North Carolina - do you have any idea how many people, or what percentage of people will vote early? Typically it seems not to reach 50%, but with the level of enthusiasm in this election, I wonder if that's possible in some of these states with such huge ground games (like in Georgia, as well). I assume that when you poll, you ask voters if they've already cast their ballot? And finally, I wonder specifically if Obama continues to poll well in the Western part of the state. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Rasmussen will show for NC tomorrow...prediction is that McCain will reclaim a small lead.

I guess you will show a 2 point lead for Obama, which would be no change from last time.

Anonymous said...


I can't WAIT for Obama to win the White House and come back to this blog to wipe it in your face.

Only 2 more weeks, sweetie!

And Rasmussen will show Obama ahead in NC actually if trends hold. Obama is leading nationally in their tracking poll (+6) today which is wider than his lead in their poll last week (+5).

Anonymous said...

Jensen usually does some good work, tyle, but his Pennsylvania primary result is something he's still embarrassed by (or should be embarrassed by as he was pretty much the only pollster showing Obama winning by three). Jensen was a man about it and admitted that he oversampled folks in Philly, probably giving too much respect for the Obama city ground game. I'll look closely at the brekdowns between cities, small towns, suburbs, and rural folks tomorrow though I concede it's difficult for folks to characterize the description of their residence.

Anonymous said...

Tom, any hints on Fl.?

ttfrenzy said...

when can we expect the NC number to be coming out?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

Ras has Obama up +3, his biggest lead so far with that pollster. Just saying:)

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