Buyer’s Remorse May Swing the Election

“I voted for Obama in 2008, but I’m not going to vote for him this time.”

By Adam Geller

We’ve all heard someone utter this phrase, or something close to it by now.   Whether we are in the business of politics, analyzing polls and focus groups, or having a more casual conversation about the political scene, this is a statement that seems to come up more often as we draw closer to Election Day 2012.

Now, to be fair, there are plenty of folks who are saying, “I voted for Obama in ’08, and I will vote for him again in ’12.”   As long as we are being fair, let us also acknowledge the fact that we have yet to hear anyone state that they voted for McCain last time, but this time they will vote for Obama.

So, the pressing question is the extent to which previous Obama voters will, in fact change their mind.   How many mind-changers are needed to make a difference, and swing the election away from Obama? 

The answer is: not that many.

Rather than add to the body of analysis that already exists on a state-by-state basis, I want to simply concentrate on the popular vote.   In sticking with an analysis of the popular vote, I make every assumption that much of the movement that I describe herein would take place in the battleground states with which we are all familiar.

Let’s start with a reasonable, conservative (small c) theory: let’s assume that no more than one-out-of-ten 2008 Obama voters actually do, in fact, change their minds and this time vote for the Republican.   Now, some may say that the actual number may be higher than that, but for now, let’s stick with a smaller safer assumption.   Let’s also assume, for now, that turnout matches 2008 turnout.

First, let’s go back and look at the actual popular vote results.   Recall that in 2008, the vote tally was:

Barack Obama:  69,456,897 (53%)

John McCain: 59,934,814 (46%)

Other: 1,865,617 (1%)

Now, holding others things, like turnout, constant, let’s assume that 10% of Obama’s voters change their mind, and let’s further assume that no McCain voter of 2008 will turn into an Obama 2012 voter.  

Under this scenario, we take 10% of Obama vote out of his total, and add it to the GOP nominee’s total, and this is what we get:

Barack Obama: 62,511,207 (48%)

GOP Nominee: 66,880,504 (51%)

Other: 1,865,617 (1%)

There we have it.   If only one-of-ten Obama voters actually do change their mind and vote Republican this time, the Republican wins the popular vote, and likely, the Presidency.

What if 1.5 out of 10, or 15 voters out of 100 change their mind?  If that happens, we can start using words like “blowout.”

Barack Obama:  59,038,362 (45%)

GOP Nominee: 70,353,349 (54%)

Other: 1,865,617 (1%)

Is it plausible to suggest that 10 or 15 Obama voters out of 100 would change their mind?   Given the President’s poll numbers, it seems plausible, at the very least.  And, perhaps more importantly, there is historical precedent.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter garnered 40,831,881 votes against President Gerald Ford.   But in 1980, Carter only received 35,480,115 votes against Ronald Reagan – a 13.1% drop.

Reagan won 43,903,230 votes in 1980 – an 11.6% increase over Ford’s 1976 vote total of 39,148,634.

Another comparison (though admittedly a little more messy because of a strong third party candidate, Ross Perot) is found in President George H.W. Bush’s drop from 1988 to 1992.  In 1988, Bush received 48,886,097 votes.   In 1992, his vote total was 39,104,550 – an astounding 20% drop.   The Perot campaign notwithstanding, that’s a mighty drop.

In the context of recent history, a 10% drop doesn’t seem far-fetched.

Let us not discount another voter:  There might very well be a 2008 Obama voter who is not going to vote for the President this time, but has also determined that he or she will not for the Republican either.   This voter will “sit this one out.”  How many of these voters exist?  Another 1 out-of-10 Obama voters?   If that’s the case, take another 6.9 million voters off of Obama’s projected vote.   Don’t add them to the GOP candidate; just take them from Obama.

In 2008, Obama ran under favorable political winds.  He was more than the Democratic nominee.   He was a history making rock star, promising hope and change, delivering a historic, and briefly unifying, win.  Those days are long gone.  It turns out that a chunk of Obama voters – between 10 and 20% – may just “change their mind” – and be gone for him too.

Adam Geller is the founder and President of National Research Inc., a Republican polling firm with clients throughout the country.   Mr. Geller served as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s pollster in his 2009 Gubernatorial campaign.

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

18 Comments on “Buyer’s Remorse May Swing the Election”

  1. Freespeaker1976 said at 8:02 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    Interesting postulations, but for it to have credence, it needs to be carried out to a state by state situation in the battle ground states, as well as blue states like N.J, California and Pennsylvania.

    “What If” also, those voters just stay home because they just can’t pull the lever for a Republican? We know they are out there.

    “What If” also Republican voters are just not excited by Romney? I can see that happening in some of the more conservative states.

    As well, there is the “what if” Obama does put a BILLION on the table (not $100 MILLION) as a state Republican staffer indicated as a reason why Obama would beat Romney?

    You can not also discount the effect of the Obama GOTV machine. Acorn people will be fighting mad.

    I am not trying to be negative on Romney just because I don’t believe in him; I suggesting that there are a lot more things that need to be run thru a calculator than just 1% automatically switching sides. It’s not just that simple

  2. Bob English said at 8:14 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    Art, interesting piece.

    Just one other thing to throw into the mix besdies what Free mentioned……would be newly registered younger voters (which probably lean strongly to the President) and remmebering that McCain did his best with older voters/seniors etc. a portion of which have retired (to put it nicely) from voting in the last 4 years.

  3. Reality Check said at 9:02 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    Something else to think about. A recent poll found that one out of two recent college grads are either unemployed or underemployed. My son and his friends, all college age, think this guy Obama is the biggest BS artist on two feet. Also, gas is almost $4 a gallon, they all drive and we have our Muslim prez and his dopey energy czar looking for ten bucks a gallon. As for people not being crazy about Romney – when they step into that booth and see a committed socialist, friend of Bill Ayres and Rev. Wright, ass kisser of Muslim despots, enemy of business, and admirer of Saul Alinsky who is bent on destroying everything that made this country great and Mitt Romney – I guarantee you they will rip the lever off as they vote for Romney.

  4. Joe Wedick said at 9:57 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    Another factor to throw in: Unemployment rate for white males 24 to 54 years of age (prime working ages) is 26% according to Joe Connelly on WCBS 880 AM. Are they going for the guy who takes over companies and gets rid of people or for the guy who saved GM?

  5. Bob English said at 11:18 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    The conservative group Freedomworks as well as Dick Army are also apparently admirers of Saul Alinsky’s oganizing skills since they pass out his book on a regular basis.

  6. Bob English said at 11:29 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    Since Saul Alinsky has been dead for almost 40 years I would bet that the first time many people ever heard his name was when Newt starting saying that the President was an admirer of the man. One thing to admire was that Mr. Alinsky was one of the first receipiants of The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award which is a Catholic peace award which has been given annually since 1964, in commemoration of the 1963 encyclical letter “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth) of Pope John XXIII. It is awarded “to honor a person for their achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world.”

  7. Rick Ambrosia said at 6:26 am on May 3rd, 2012:

    It matters where those votes come from…you can still lose the popular vote, such as “W” did in 2000, and win the election. The President can lose Texas by 500,000 and win California by 10,000 and so on with other red v. blue states, and still win the election.

  8. Reality Check said at 6:45 am on May 3rd, 2012:

    I always find it fascinating when Bob English pulls out some lone postive factoid about a despicable individual that he feels, somehow excuses all the bad. Anyway, Obama’s liberal henchman in the media and organized labor are in full panic mode trying to prop up the pathetic Muslim President, however, his horrible record, radical associations and hatred for this country are insurmountable. Isn’t it funny how the liberal press is combing Romney’s life for every comment, every aspect of his past life, every nuance of his faith, yet do nothing to examine Obama’s past, the many unanswered questions about his birth situation, the rogues gallery of communists, socialists and warmed over radicals in his administration, his academic record, and on and on? All of those who are on to the America hating Muslim in the White House must unite behind his opponent – our only hope to save this great country.

  9. Reality Check... said at 7:41 am on May 3rd, 2012:

    You could also apply that line to Ricky Ambrosia.

    As well, talking about the media combing over Romney’s life, Rush brought up something interesting about Obama. Strange that there are no past girlfriends fawning over what a great guy he is, don’t you think?

  10. Rick Ambrosia said at 8:50 am on May 3rd, 2012:

    LOL…yeah….the fascist right will be insinuating everything they possibly can, but it just won’t matter. You will still have to put up with the President for 4 more years…

  11. Girlfriends said at 11:06 am on May 3rd, 2012:

    Reality: Girlfriends? What girlfriends? It was just revealed that the girlfriend he mentions in his memoir is an “imaginary friend”. Did did he figure out where did he meet Michelle? (law firm, or school?). For a person with such charisma and eloquence, how many professors, colleagues or roommates have come out to talk about their past experiences? Does anyone know anything about his grades or admission papers at either college?

    Back to Adam: 10% switching and 10% staying home might be too optimistic. I’d place it at 10% combined voter remorse.

  12. Reality Check said at 4:24 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    Maybe Little Ricky, and maybe not. One thing is for sure, your Muslim hero is you know whatting in his pants for a reason. Between his incredibly shady, unknown past and his horrendous record – this guy has his work cut out from him. And if his union, ACORN and Black Panther flunkies still manage to steal the election for him, you can be proud to have supported the destruction of the very country that gave you so much.

  13. Rick Ambrosia said at 4:42 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    LOL…again…yeah, I know…bla, bla, bla, bla..the sky is always falling. Too funny.

  14. Bob English said at 5:50 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    Reality Check…a couple of more “positive factoids” for you. In the first few years The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award was given, it was awarded to John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Sargent Shriver. Mr. Alinsky was given the award in 1969. Sounds like he was in very good company.

  15. Wake up call said at 5:58 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    Every voter better take a good look at the Obamination of America by Obama. It’s now or never to turn the tides. We are at the tipping point towards socialism, and the only talk coming from the lips of the American people should be Obama Must GO, whether you like Romney or not, vote him in and Obama out. Romney is 100% better than Obama.

  16. Reality Check said at 6:57 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    Quite the wordsmith, aren’t you Little Ricky? As usual, a pointless post that adds nothing. Some friendly advice, don’t order the champagne just yet. A lot of people don’t have/can’t get jobs. Gas isn’t going down to $2 bucks a gallon. Al Queda is one dope with a bomb strapped to him away from reminding us how weak this guy is against terrorism. And the court is probably going to overturn Hussein’s beloved socialized healthcare grab. So keep laughing genius, Hussein is worried for a reason.

  17. Bob English said at 11:50 pm on May 3rd, 2012:

    Obama weak on terrorism??? You would have to be totally dellussional and in denial of reality to believe that.

    Was Obama the President in 2002 that stated he did not know where Bin Laden was and did not care???

    Was Obama the Republican candidate in 2008 that said they would not act to get Bin Laden if given a chance without first advising the Pakistani govenment to see if they would act first. Would have been a lot more likely they would have tipped him off so he could have escaped. Let me see who said that??? Bad news!! It was Romeny who has since flipped flopped off of that statement and used the etcher-schetch to now say he would have done exactly what Obama did. Thats not what he was saying in 2008 though. Does that make Romney soft on terrorism??

  18. Reality Check said at 4:35 pm on May 4th, 2012:

    Oh God up in heaven, will you open your eyes Bob English? This is a guy whose mentor, Bill Ayres, is a terrorist!!! He has removed the term Islamic Terrorist from every government manual! He is sanitizing the FBI and CIA training manuals! He makes Neville Chamberlain look like John Wayne!