The Democratic Party has dominated the popular vote in five of the last seven national races since 1988.
And, if this year’s Presidential election is any indication, the Democratic Party is poised to continue that trend in national races for perhaps a generation to come.
According to historical election data, only two Republican presidential candidates have received more popular votes than their Democratic challengers in the last twenty-four years.
George H.W. Bush won in 1988 with 48,886,097 votes against Michael Dukakis’ 41,809,074 votes.
In 2004, the son George W. Bush secured 60,693,281 in the popular vote tally while John Kerry received 57,355,978 votes.
The data suggest a troubling shift for the Republican Party:
1988 – (R) 48,886,097 (D) 41,809,074
1992 – (D) 44,908,254 (R) 39,102,343
1996 – (D) 45,590,703 (R) 37,816,307
2000 – (D) 50,996,582 (R) 50,456,062
2004 – (R) 60,693,281 (D) 57,355,978
2008 – (D) 69,297,997 (R) 59,597,520
2012 – (D) 60,652,238 (R) 57,810,407 *
How are they accomplishing this feat?
Conservative and liberal commentators concur — it’s about the effectiveness of the ground game and the segments of the population from which the major parties draw their votes.
For Republicans, they have enjoyed their strongest support among whites, males, evangelicals and senior citizens.
Voting strength for Democrats comes more from the youth, Latinos, women, and African-Americans.
The way each party interacts with these groups has made a huge impact on voter turnout and election day success.
“Despite our projection that Republican Mitt Romney would secure a victory in the face of a $16 trillion national debt, continued high unemployment and consumer commodity prices, President Obama proved once again that the ground game matters and a grassroots organization is what ultimately wins elections,” said Big 3 News Executive Editor Rusty Ray twenty-four hours after the election. “Nationally, Obama carried the votes of the youth, women, Latino’s and African-Americans. Romney primarily appealed to white men and senior citizens.”
Journalist Sasha Issenberg recently spoke about these key strategy differences between the Republicans and Democrats in an interview with PBS NewsHour.
“They (the Obama campaign) had on their side…a whole bunch of new tools. They started running these randomized control experiments, basically field experiments, that allowed them to understand what actually moved voters,” Issenberg noted.
“They came to understand I think a whole lot more about what the value of an individual interaction with a volunteer was in both changing somebody’s mind or getting them out to vote. And that informed their ability to think they could, even if they were outspent in the fall, to do a lot of this work on the ground.”
Turnout was a problem for Republicans, according to early numbers, with many states showing lower numbers than in 2004.
“This is one of those rare elections in which turnout in every state in the nation went down,” said Curtis Gans, director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
On social media, the same tools Democrats used to execute their ground game, conservatives have been abuzz this week blaming anything that walks for Romney’s loss.
“We got hosed by 52% of an entitled society nation who feels it is better to receive than to contribute,” Jason, a voter from Ohio, commented on the Big 3 News Facebook page.
Even third party and write-in candidates — the ultimate expression of an individual’s will — have been in the line of fire for what critics say siphoned off crucial votes from the Republicans in key battleground states.
But the impact of such candidates, when one looks at the numbers, appears to be minimal.
In Ohio, for instance, third party and write-in candidates received 87,843 votes out of a total 5,364,324 votes cast, or 1.64% of the total vote.
President Obama would have still beat Mitt Romney by 19,398 votes in Ohio in a hypothetical scenario where 100% of the third party and write-in votes went to Romney.
Nationwide, the Libertarian ticket carried a record 1.2 million votes, which represented only 1.01% of the total votes cast for Romney and Obama combined. Compare that to the record 19% of the popular vote carried by independent candidate Ross Perot in 1992 and it’s clear third party candidates have a long way to go in significantly impacting the outcome of a national race.
Republican leaders are now examining the future direction of the party, and will most likely need to come up with ways to marry the social & fiscal conservatives with a number of minority demographics.
“When Democrats consistently win large majorities of Jewish voters (69% for Obama), African-Americans (93% for Obama), and Latinos (71% for Obama), there’s a real problem with the message the Republican party is sending,” Ray said.
If the Republicans don’t expand their reach and embrace voters on an individual level, they may be relegated to a losing party status on the national level for several years to come.
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