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Who Were The Obama-Allen Voters? Comparing Presidential and Senate Results, Part One

by: jncca

Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 19:33:54 PM EST

On Daily Kos Elections, many commentators throughout the summer and fall assumed Tim Kaine would outperform Barack Obama's total in Virginia.  This turned out to be true.  However, commentators also said they couldn't imagine any Obama-Allen voters, and speculated who those voters could be.  I decided to find out for myself, and so I made a map.  The bluer the county, the more the Democrat outperformed Obama.  The redder, the more they underperformed.  In this first installation of the series, I have three maps: Virginia, Montana, and Ohio.

 photo virginiasen2012_zpsee95de66.jpg

Unsurprisingly, Tim Kaine's strongest overperformance came in Virginia's ancestrally Democratic Southwest, the most Appalachian part of the state, more similar to Eastern Kentucky than the rest of the state.  A cluster of ten counties in the Southwest and one county near that cluster all had Kaine outperform Obama by at least 3%, a not-insubstantial amount of ticket splitting in a race where neither candidate deviated much from their party.  Of course, a bit of that may be racism; some of those voters may be Democrats who would have voted for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, or other White Democrats, but not Barack Obama.  

In much of the rest of the state, Kaine ran a point or two ahead of Obama.  This was fairly uniform; it included many rural counties, more urban places like Norfolk or Alexandria, as well as suburban areas like Fairfax and Loudoun Counties as well as the Richmond suburbs.  Unlike some races, this race didn't really have the Republican candidate overperforming in the ancestrally Republican suburbs.  Part of this may be Allen's past; his offensive statements regarding African-Americans ("what position did you play?") and South Asians ("macaca") are most likely to turn off suburban voters who like voting for moderate or mainstream Republicans, but not those they see as extreme.  Even Loudoun County, an area I'd expect to have a decent number of voters who split their ticket, had Obama run behind Kaine.  A second explanation for why this didn't occur is that Romney was a great fit for moderate suburbanites.  Allen may have run ahead of George Bush or Rick Santorum, but enough swingy, wealthy moderates went for Romney that he couldn't outrun him.

Finally, and most interestingly to me, there were some areas where Allen did outrun Romney.  I'm going to break these down into three areas.

1) The Southside: Much of Southern Virginia and some of the Hampton Roads area had Allen outrun Romney.  There are multiple potential explanation for this.  Firstly, there is the possibility that Allen had particular appeal to Black voters.  I'm discounting this theory for obvious reasons.  Secondly, it's possible some Black Republicans voted for Obama out of racial solidarity, but voted Republican for other offices.  In my opinion, this is unlikely because of Allen's history, but could have occurred a bit.  Most likely to me is the idea that some low-info, mostly Black voters skipped the Senate race but voted for Obama, or turned out with the intention of only voting for Obama, leading to Allen outperforming Romney.

2) Appalachia (Bob Goodlatte's district): Six Appalachian counties had Allen do better than Romney.  In my opinion, this is the most likely place for there to actually be Obama-Allen voters.  I don't really know why that would be, though.  But the area is very White, so it's not due to minority dropoff.

3) Prince William County: This county has a lot of minorities but is ancestrally Republican.  Therefore, either of the two theories could apply.  However, the fact that Loudoun County, which is similarly ancestrally red, had Kaine overperform Obama leads to my guess that it's due to low-info minorities skipping the Senate race here as well.

Now on to Montana, where Jon Tester beat Denny Rehberg in a race I expected him to lose.

 photo montana2012senate_zpsd8b1b109.jpg

Here, as we can see, Tester outran Obama everywhere, no surprise considering his moderation and the fact that he won in a red state.  There don't appear to be strong patterns here, but I can identify a couple.
1) Native Americans: Tester didn't outrun Obama as well in counties containing reservations.  I'm not sure why this is.
2) Ranchers: Tester, from the Central, ranching part of the state, did better in the eastern two-thirds of the state than the mountainous western part.  He likely had less appeal to mountain-dwellers.  
3) Home-County Strength: Tester's home of Chouteau County is the dark-blue county that is furthest north, near the center of the state.  He did well there.  Rehberg didn't do that great in his home county, Yellowstone (Billings), the county where the C in "Crow" is located on the map.

Finally, Ohio.
 photo ohiosen2012_zps766960c9.jpg

Sherrod Brown is known as a blue-collar Democrat, closely linked to unions and manufacturing.  Therefore, he should do well in auto-manufacturing areas and relatively poorly in the suburbs, right?  Well, that didn't happen.  Here's what did.

1) Josh Mandel's strength: Mandel did pretty well in the Northwest fourth of the state.  That area has been Republican for over a century.  What surprises me, however, are the five counties he won in the Eastern half.  That area has historically been purple at worst for Democrats, yet he outran Sherrod Brown!  I don't know why this is, and I can think of no reason at all that Obama would be uniquely appealing there, but that's what happened.  Like George Allen, Josh Mandel didn't do better than average in suburban, ancestrally Republican areas like Hamilton County or Franklin/Delaware Counties.

2) The Exurban Counties: Sherrod Brown did very well in Warren, Medina, and Geauga counties, three exurban places where Republicans always win.  Perhaps Romney was very appealing there?  Otherwise I have no explanation.

3) Home Base: Sherrod Brown grew up in Mansfield.  Apparently he's still popular there.

4) Autos: I don't see any correlation between auto plants and Brown overperforming.

5) Eastern and Southern Ohio: These ancestrally Democratic areas gave Brown the overperformance we all expected.

Anyway, that's part one.  Any help with potential explanations? Feedback? Leave comments!

jncca :: Who Were The Obama-Allen Voters? Comparing Presidential and Senate Results, Part One
How many Senate races did you predict incorrectly?


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Warren County, OH
Warren County, OH was a huge disappointment. It's a thoroughly Republican county and is just deeply conservative, so I just can't fathom why Sherrod Brown would have run so well there.

From IL-09, familial roots in MI-14, college in PA-02/07, and working for the summer in DC-AL.

Andy Hill for WA-Governor!

well, as I said
it could be that Romney did really well, and Brown did average, and thus he overperformed Obama.

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Communitarian, Civic Nationalist, Democrat, Francophile.

I'll become a conservative when America becomes a meritocracy

[ Parent ]
eh Warren County did better for Bush twice
Contrast that to Wisconsin; Romney hit within a point of Bush's performance in WOW. He did pretty well in Duffy's district too.

28, R, PA-07.

[ Parent ]
To put it another way
Brown got 31% in Warren County, which, for a Democrat, could be worse.

Brown ran about even with Obama in Ohio--and in Warren County. The conservative vote for Senate was split between Mandel and Scott Rupert, a right-wing independent. Rupert got 4.6% statewide, and 4.2% in Warren.

[ Parent ]
Love this
Love seeing posts like this after the election, great job.

34/M/D/NY-01 DKE:Socks The Cat


26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
Good Analysis
A good analysis of Obama and Dem Senate Candidate strength in the states you looked at.  In particular, I think Kaine's doing better than Obama in SW Virginia is because some white Kaine supporters didn't want to vote for a black man for president, as you indicated.  

The Obama-Senate candidate relationship I would particularly like to see analyzed is Arizona, where Obama lost by 9 points but Carmona lost to Flake by only 3 points. Why did the gaffe prone Carmona do so much better than Obama?  I don't think racial factors come into play here.  Would so many white voters not vote for Obama because he is black but then turn around and vote for a Hispanic candidate? That doesn't seem likely. So I'm puzzled.    

Obama was a known entity with high disapproval numbers
Carmona had a great bio and took some positions to the right of Obama. Add the fact that it was an open senate seat and Flake was running his first statewide bid and it is very clear why Carmona outperformed Obama. Not to mention that Carmona actually ran a campaign in AZ (along with outside groups), whereas Obama not only didn't campaign, but he became confrontational with the state during his first term.  

30/Male/Married/Father of One/Republican/CA-3

Marco Rubio For President!

[ Parent ]
I'll do it, but don't forget that they have a few very large counties, like Maricopa and Pima, so the map won't be as helpful as in most other states.

Age 22, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (college)

Law and Order Communitarian, Civic Nationalist, Democrat, Francophile.

I'll become a conservative when America becomes a meritocracy

[ Parent ]
Thanks, but...
Thanks for offering to do the map, but as you indicate, the state has two large counties, so I don't think that a county map similar to the others you did will help much in explaining why Carmona did well. As the other commentator indicated, Carmona may have been helped by appearing more centrist than Obama and having a good resume.  However, he was prone to gaffes and odd personal behavior, so he wasn't an ideal Dem candidate.  Maybe Flake just ran a poor campaign.  It reminds me of North Dakota, where Berg ran way behind Romney.  Heitkamp defined herself as more centrist than Obama and Berg did not run the most effective campaign.  He lost by 3,000 votes despite the fact he had been elected statewide as the At Large Representative.  Still as with Flake, you have to wonder why Berg didn't do better.  

[ Parent ]

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