I thought it would be closer. I really did. I know that 2 million votes difference out of 122 million is still a tight race, but I was actually confident the roles would be reversed. That expectation was not just wishful thinking. In several pre-election polls, Romney had taken a slight lead and had a palpable momentum. Given that independents had been breaking heavily to Romney, it looked probable that he could capture enough swing states to win an electoral college victory in addition to the popular vote.
I was wrong. Why?
For the same reason that Rasmussen was wrong. Pollsters and pundits alike completely underestimated the cultural disconnect the Republican party had with minority groups and the enthusiasm gap between Obama and Romney supporters. Minorities showed up with a passion that increased their absolute numbers, yet 10 to 16 million fewer white voters showed up despite an increase in their number. The enthusiasm gap was among Republicans, not traditionally Democratic voters.
First, a quick note on the cultural disconnect. Minority votes went to Obama more than 85% of the time. That means almost 9 out of 10 minorities thought that voting for Obama would be in their best interest. Anecdotal stories from my minority friends suggests that their respective communities really believed that Romney was going to raise taxes to pay for tax breaks for the rich, eliminate social programs that many in their community had come to rely on, deport their relatives, or flame anti-Chinese sentiment. None of these were a platform or objective of Romney, but distortions of Romney statements provided the left the wind to stoke the flames of fear.
Though the actual results were within the margin of error of the Romney leaning polls, Rasmussen stated that they “underestimated the minority share of the electorate. In 2008, 26% of voters were non-white. We expected that to remain relatively constant. However, in 2012, 28% of voters were non-white. That was exactly the share projected by the Obama campaign. It is not clear at the moment whether minority turnout increased nationally, white turnout decreased, or if it was a combination of both. The increase in minority turnout has a significant impact on the final projections since Romney won nearly 60% of white votes while Obama won an even larger share of the minority vote.
Another factor may be related to the generation gap. It is interesting to note that the share of seniors who showed up to vote was down slightly from 2008 while the number of young voters was up slightly. Pre-election data suggested that voters over 65 were more enthusiastic about voting than they had been four years earlier so the decline bears further examination.”