Double the Spending, Less Turnout . . . The Numbers on Romney vs McCain

The votes are still being tallied, but it is very clear that the Romney campaign and allied groups didn’t come even close to delivering all the voters they could have, or should have, on Election Day.

I produced a very rough total for the vote by taking the state totals and increasing each candidate’s share by the percentage yet to be counted in each state: 66.2 million votes for Obama, 62.5 million for Romney.

In 2008, John McCain received about 60 million votes, a couple of million short of Romney. But, of course, the population has increased. When you look at the votes as a share of the voting eligible population, Romney pulled in almost exactly the same proportion of votes as McCain did in ’08. 

Romney’s campaign, despite all the turmoil and billions of dollars, could not turn out more voters than John McCain.

This is a stunning failure. Epic. And even more so when we look at the percentage of likely supporters each side turned out this year. The electorate has become more Republican and less Democratic since 2008 . . . in other words, Romney had a bigger pool of likely voters that he could draw from to outperform Obama. 

I apportioned the voting eligible population in 2008 to the full 7-point party identification breakdowns for 2012. In other words, if 28 percent of the population identified as a Strong Dem, then I assigned 28 percent of the VEP to Stong Dems, and did that for each category (and split pure Indies 50/50). 

In 2008, Obama’s campaign turned out 59 percent of their likely supporters, and McCain’s campaign turned out 63 percent of his likely supporters (there were a lot more Dems).

In 2012, Romney’s campaign turned out just 59 percent of potential supporters to Obama’s 58 percent. 

In other words, Obama and his allies turned out about the same proportion of a smaller pool of likely supporters, and Romney, et al, failed utterly to capitalize on the shift in party ID and ideology. Looking at the relative declines in various states, I think Sean Trende is on to something with his speculation about who failed to show up and why, especially in Ohio.

The more I look at these numbers, the more angry I get . . . this election did not have to be lost.