The voting public this year looks pretty much like the voting public of 2008 — except for one significant difference: It’s more Republican.
That’s the conclusion of Gallup’s analysis of the daily tracking of public opinion it has run since the start of October.
The “key elements of President Obama’s electoral coalition, such as racial minorities, women, young adults and postgraduates will likely turn out at rates similar to those in 2008,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones writes.
There are some subtle differences:
Women, who tend to support Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, account for 52 percent of the 2012 electorate, Gallup reports — 53 percent in 2008. Men, who tend to support Romney, account for 48 percent — 47 percent in 2008.
African-Americans, who overwhelmingly support Obama, account for 11 percent of the 2012 electorate — 12 percent in 2008.
Hispanics, who support Obama by better than two-to-one margins in most polling this year, account for 7 percent of the electorate — 6 percent in 2008.
Here’s the difference: Those who identify themselves as Republican account for 36 percent of the 2012 electorate in Gallup’s surveys — compared with 29 percent in 2008. Democrats, 35 percent of this year’s electorate, accounted for 39 percent in 2008. Those either Republican or leaning Republican account for 49 percent this year, 42 percent in 2008. Those either Democratic or Democratic leaning account for 35 percent this year, 39 percent in 2008.
All of which helps explain why Romney holds a 51-46 percent edge in Gallup’s latest track of likely voters nationally
The Washington-based Pew Research Center, which also runs large surveys, has a different reading of the electorate:
Self-identified Democrats account for 35 percent of registered voters, based on surveys of more than 13,000 people this year. That’s down from 38 percent in 2012. Republicans account for 28 percent, and that’s how it stood in 2008. Independents account for 33 percent, compared with 39 percent in 2008.
A record 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote this year, up by more than 4 million, or 22 percent, from 2008, when 19.5 million were eligible to vote. They account for 11 percent of the nation’s eligible voters, the Pew Research Center has found, up from 9.5 percent in 2008.
“However,” Pew reports, “the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters has historically lagged that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. In 2008, for example, 50 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with 65 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites.”
All of which explains how much get-out-the-vote efforts in the several swing states where the election will be decided matter on Nov. 6. Some of those states — Nevada, Colorado and Florida — are heavily influenced by the Latino vote. Some of them — namely Ohio — will be heavily influenced by how people identify themselves politically and where they align with Obama or Romney.