The exit polls conducted on election day in 2012 sent a chill through the spines of Republican strategists.
The data was stark and concerning. There are far fewer white voters than ever before. The electorate is growing younger, more diverse and more liberal. Without massive change, the GOP would be relegated to permanent minority status in presidential elections.
The RNC panicked. They produced a report that said that Republicans needed to make significant gains among Hispanics to be competitive. Elites jumped on immigration reform as the way to do it. They drove a wedge between themselves and the party’s base, destroying Marco Rubio’s presidential ambitions with the gang of 8 reform bill and, ultimately, led to the nomination of Donald Trump as the most significant consequence of the backlash.
Now it turns out that none of that may have been necessary because the data on which the assumptions that led to these events was probably wrong!
The New York Times has the story…
New analysis by The Upshot shows that millions more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day. This raises the prospect that Mr. Trump has a larger pool of potential voters than generally believed.
The wider path may help explain why Mr. Trump is competitive in early general election surveys against Hillary Clinton. And it calls into question the prevailing demographic explanation of recent elections, which held that Barack Obama did very poorly among whites and won only because young and minority voters turned out in record numbers. This story line led Republicans to conclude that they had maximized their support from white voters and needed to reach out to Hispanics to win in 2016.
Those previous conclusions emerged from exit polls released on election night. The new data from the census, voter registration files, polls and the finalized results tells a subtly different story with potential consequences for the 2016 election.
Source: New York Times