Where Have the Conservatives & Evangelicals Gone?
In an article Monday, Are Conservatives Abandoning Romney, I cited some data gleaned from multiple polls conducted within the last week that demonstrated waning support for Governor Romney from conservatives and evangelicals.
While the article was factual (see notes below about how I analyze polls) and was intended to educate readers who are Romney supporters of an alarming trend, it apparently raised a bit of a ruckus. Many readers observed the numbers were inaccurate, out of context, invalid because they failed to account for numerous factors like past voting analyses, and several even called me a Democratic shill.
Nothing could be further from the truth on any of those accounts. I am an ardent supporter of Governor Romney but I am also a political analyst and commentator, and a realist. In politicking the worst thing you can do is fail to address a challenge head-on and this is a challenge for the Romney campaign.
Not that I consider either of these to be authoritative but two articles appeared yesterday referencing a possible change in strategy within the Romney campaign and both, at varying levels, speak to the problem I espoused Monday. Politico published Inside the campaign: How Mitt Romney stumbled and BuzzFeed released Romney’s New Strategy Turns Right. I’ll make no comment on either here since it is up to the campaign to decide their course of action.
Though today I’m going to delve a bit deeper into the discourse in Are Conservatives Abandoning Romney because further research clearly shows that conservatives and evangelicals are not supporting Romney at levels they supported his two immediate predecessors, John McCain and George W. Bush.
Looking at the same numbers from current polling when compared to McCain in 2008 and Bush in 2004, it’s no longer a question, it is fact that conservatives and evangelicals are not turning out for Romney.
As before, this chart includes the swing states of Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.
The Romney 2012 numbers are obtained from a group of polls of likely voters conducted by pollsters with both conservative and liberal biases, and then demographically adjusted to remove/reduce party bias. The McCain 2008 and Bush 2004 numbers are derived from averaging the results of a collection of exit polls performed in 2004 and 2008 of actual voters. Here again the pollsters represent a range of conservative to liberal biases, and I do not accept at face value any exit poll but they were all remarkably close and are relevant to looking at the very apparent trends.
Notwithstanding the linear drop in support from self-described moderates, which has occurred at virtually every level of campaigning – national, state and local, and focusing on the Conservatives and Evangelicals, we see:
Romney currently has just 0.5% more support from Conservatives than McCain received in 2008
Romney currently has 7.1% less support from Conservatives than Bush received in 2004
Romney currently has 10.4% less support from Evangelicals than McCain received in 2008
Romney currently has 25.0% less support from Evangelicals than Bush received in 2004
Even conceding a couple points since the margin of error is greater for exit polling than phone polling of likely voters the trends do not lie or obfuscate the reality that Governor Romney is not getting the support he should from conservatives and evangelicals. Furthermore, the difference in support is so great that an increase of half of the current deficiencies would have Romney holding a comfortable lead over Obama.
I will not draw a conclusion about why and will leave that to individual readers but what is clear is it is not the undecideds or persuadables that could cost Romney the election, it’s conservatives and evangelicals.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Analyzing polling numbers is always subject to individual poll bias, registered vs. likely voters, polling methodologies such as online, robo-calls to landlines, mobile survey apps to cellphones and a plethora of other factors.
Before I use any poll in an analysis I adjust the poll using algorithms of my own that compensate for these factors and establish a baseline so every poll is considered in the same context, or as close as is reasonably possible. Also I rarely quote individual polls rather groups of polls as a weighted average.
Finally, it is true the ultimate poll occurs on Election Day but there is not a campaign in the country that does not rely on polling, both internal and public, to gauge where they are at a given time and what they should do to address the challenges and shortcomings the results dictate. That is professional politicking.