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Pennsylvania in 2012, Part I: Romney and Raw Turnout

by: Ryan_in_SEPA

Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 17:00:00 PM EST

I have decided to do an election analysis of Pennsylvania in 2012 starting with the effectiveness of the Romney campaign turning out its voters compared to 2004 and 2008.  Romney's campaign offers us a number of lessons I hope to explore in a few posts along with the weakness in the Obama campaign the Romney team failed to exploit efficiently in Pennsylvania.

The first part of this series will examine how Romney turned out Republican voters compared to Bush and McCain.  I chose to look at raw turnout instead of percentages as it gives us an opportunity to see how existing voters in an area behave over time.  Below is a chart of all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties with three columns.  

Ryan_in_SEPA :: Pennsylvania in 2012, Part I: Romney and Raw Turnout

The first column contains the counties where McCain received more raw votes than Romney. The second is the same but replace McCain with Bush. The third column is the counties where Romney outperformed both. Wayne County has an asterisk as there appears to be a problem with the state's results page for Wayne County.

What we see here is quite interesting. Romney underperformed McCain in 29 counties and Romney underperformed Bush in 50 counties. There appears to be no real pattern in Romney's underperformance with regards to McCain. Romney does seem to have performed better than McCain in the central part of the state and appears to have had a wash in western Pennsylvania.

Romney's underperformance of Bush is far more troubling. Romney pretty much underperformed Bush in every county without high population growth. Romney even underperformed Bush in some of the fastest growing counties in the middle of the state, Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Perry. Population growth probably masks the underperformance in some of the other counties as well.

The reverse can be said for some of the other counties where Romney appears to have lost votes. The number of votes lost seems to be indicative of population decline. This probably explains the decline in much of western Pennsylvania especially Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. That said, Romney gained raw votes over Bush and McCain in counties losing population including Armstrong, Beaver, Greene, Indiana and Somerset.  Next I will provide the same analysis of President Obama's performance.  

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Surprised me
I just did that comparison in MI. Only two counties did Romney outperform Bush in raw votes. Alger (a Kerry/Obama) County which went for Romney, and Livingston. They tied in Iron. In Livingston, Bush had a higher percentage in 04 (almost 63%) than Romney did (61%). It was population growth that made the difference.

McCain outperformed Romney in raw votes in 14 counties, even those that went Obama/Romney. It was more turnout than anything else.  Romney improved McCain in 69 counties in terms of raw votes. Interestingly, Wayne County was not one of them.

MI-08 - Chairman - Livingston County Republican Party Since 2013 - Opinions are my own and not that of LCRP.  

Romney was the Republican Dukakis. I sucked it up during the general, but my, what a lousy candidate and team.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

[ Parent ]
Romney =/= Dukakis
I realize this an inherently subjective judgment, but speaking as one who opposed Romney in the 2008 primaries and was neutral towards him in the 2012 primaries, I just don't think that assessment is at all fair to Romney or his organization.

A few benchmarks of comparison:
Electoral College: 332-206 (Romney); 426-112 (Dukakis)
Popular Vote: 50.8-47.7 (Romney); 53.4-45.6 (Dukakis)
States: 25-25 (Romney); 40-10 (Dukakis).

Dukakis was running against a non-incumbent after 8 years of rule by the opposing party; he enjoyed a substantial lead throughout most of the pre-September period and squandered it all. Romney was running against an incumbent and faced a substantial deficit for most of the pre-September period; he made it a close race.

Dukakis picked Bentsen for VP: a 67-year-old mandarin of the Senate who had first won election to Congress 40 years earlier, and whose selection was a naked attempt to win a particular state in the Electoral College. Romney picked Ryan for VP: a 42-year-old rising star, and whose selection was an attempt to draw the nation's attention to the issues of deficit spending and entitlements reform.

Pro-Democrat media and activists turned on Dukakis with a vengeance with about a month to go. Pro-GOP media and activists overwhelmingly stood by Romney to the end.

Age 44. Location: GA-04 & GA-05.

[ Parent ]
Kerry would be the more closer comparision in terms of popular vote & Electoral College.

Now I'm not sure how far back you have to go to find a candidate for president that lost despite carrying a majority of the states.

43 Male Republican, Maryland Heights, MO Pattonville School District, Maryland Heights Fire District (MO-2). Previously lived in both Memphis and Nashville.

[ Parent ]
1976 and 1960 appear to be the only times it has ever happened.
Ford won 27 states, but only 240 electoral votes.

Nixon won 26 states in 1960, but only 219 EVs.

A couple of times in the 1800s the two leading candidates tied in the number of states they carried, but no other losers appear to have won a majority of states.

Had Al Gore managed to carry just one more state in 2000 (FL, NH, etc), he would have won with just 21 states (+DC) and Bush would have lost with 29 states. If Romney had won 2 more states above the 24 he won this year, he would also have lost while carrying a majority of states.  

[ Parent ]
Romney won 24 states, not 25
Obama won 26 + DC

[ Parent ]
Good analysis
Dukakis's campaign was dead long before the election, and everybody knew it. At least Romney appeared to have a chance up until the end. Kerry is a better comparison for Romney.

43, R, NE-1.

[ Parent ]
Uninspiring candidates prompt unispiring turnout...
Who would have thought?

Saint Paul (MN-4)  

Romney did okay here
In 2008 Obama won Pennsylvania 3,276,363 to 2,655,885. Obama won this year 2,930,447 to 2,646,717.  

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


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