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June 19, 2012

Analysis of Pennsylvania Undervote Indicates Keystone State Is In Play

The "undervote" is the count of people who vote in an election, but choose, for whatever reason, to not vote for a candidate in an uncontested primary, or some no-name.

If Democratic voters come out to vote in Democratic primaries, and dutifully vote for Congressman, AG, and so forth, but elect not to bother voting for Obama, what does that mean?

Mike Flynn says it means trouble for Obama.

[T]hese numbers are based solely on Democrat primary voters. There are no Republican or Independent voters in this. This is Obama's base. That said, look at the map above, in only about three counties is he winning the support of more than 90% of Democrat voters in an uncontested primary. In over 27 counties, he is winning less than 70%. In a few counties, he is winning 55%.

Our old rule of thumb was that any undervote more than 20% was a reason to go to DefCon 1. It signaled a serious problem with the base and would necessitate our adapting campaign strategy and tactics to shore up our support. I have never seen a situation where a candidate had an undervote of 30-40% and went on to win the general election. In fact, in such situations, we would often pull out of the race entirely.

One caveat here is that Obama's lowest undervote percentages are in the Philadelphia area, and those infamous Bucks County suburbs that put the Democratic candidate on top in every recent presidential election. Those are the most populous counties (well, those and Pittsburgh), so a county-by-county analysis is worse for Obama than the actual statewide undervote. In the Philly area, the undervote is, it is said (this disagrees with Flynn) "well within historical norms," and is only 15% or thereabouts.

But that means that statewide it's higher, around 20% or so, or more.

Over at the liberal New Republic, analyst William Galston puts Pennsylvania in the swing column, and that was before this data was published.

The latest Quinnipiac survey gives the president a 6-point edge (46-40), but his support remains well below 50 percent, as it has in most previous surveys for the past six months. Obama’s job approval among Pennsylvanians stands at only 46, versus 49 percent who disapprove of his performance as president. Forty-eight percent think he deserves to be reelected, while 47 percent do not. And 56 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their state, versus 43 percent who are satisfied.

At this point, the odds still favor an Obama victory in Pennsylvania this November. But the evidence suggests that Romney has a shot in the state—and Romney himself seems to think so.

Southwestern Pennsylvania shares some commonalities with bordering West Virginia, including coal, and voters who are socially conservative but economically in favor of big government's allegedly helping hand.

It also now features a significant undervote for President Obama, and perhaps a growing desire on the part of Democrats to skip the presidential race entirely.

Three Democrats from West Virginia, including first-term Sen. Joe Manchin, are skipping the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. this September, where President Obama will formally receive the party's presidential nomination.

The West Virginia Democratic Party told reporters Monday that in addition to Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall do not plan to join West Virginia's delegation. State Party Chair Larry Puccio said Sen. Jay Rockefeller will attend and will serve as the group's honorary chair.

Mr. Obama is unpopular in the state and lost 41 percent of the West Virginia primary vote to a convicted felon. Manchin -- who faces his own re-election battle this year -- has said he's not sure he'll vote for Mr. Obama.

He says he'll just stay home and keep working for West Virginia, or something.

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posted by Ace at 01:45 PM

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