2012 Voters: The Deepest Racial Split Since ‘88

Scott Clement and Jon Cohen, Washington Post, October 25, 2012

The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarized along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Obama lagging behind Republican Mitt Romney among white voters by 21 percentage points, a steep drop in support from four years ago.

As he did in 2008, Obama gets overwhelming support from non-whites, who made up a record high proportion of the overall electorate four years ago. In that contest, 80 percent of all non-whites supported Obama, including 95 percent of black voters, according to the exit poll. In the Washington Post-ABC News national tracking poll released Wednesday, Obama wins 79 percent of non-whites, and support for his reelection is nearly universal among African Americans.

But among whites, Obama is currently doing much worse than he did in 2008. At this stage four years ago, Obama trailed Republican John McCain by eight percentage points among white voters. Even in victory, Obama ended up losing white voters by 12 percentage points.

Obama’s current 21-percent-deficit—he trails Romney 59 to 38 percent—would be far harder to overcome, as this year may break a string of increasingly non-white electorates. {snip}


The clearest loss for the president is among white men. In 2008, Obama lost white men by 16 points, according to the exit poll. This year, Obama trails Romney double that margin—33 points—larger than any deficit for a Democratic candidate since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide win over Walter Mondale.


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