Researcher: Former Bush voters could determine outcome in 2012 presidential elections

May 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- President Obama's campaign brought millions of new voters to polls during the 2008 elections, but the decisions of former Bush voters had a substantial effect on the outcome.

A new University of Michigan analysis indicates that several million formerly Republican chose not to support party nominee , either staying home during the elections or opting for .

If new Obama voters are less likely to go to the polls in 2012, a critical swing vote could be voters who chose Bush in 2004.

"Future presidential hopefuls' attempts to draw lessons from the 2008 campaign should focus not only on how the Obama campaign got so many new people to the polls," U-M political science professor Arthur Lupia said, "but also on why so many people who voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 2004 chose to do something different in 2008."

More than 69 million Americans cast votes for Obama in the November . This number is 10 million more than people who voted for fellow Democrat John Kerry four years earlier.

"Obama's success in attracting new voters was a visible component of his 2008 victory … but these new voters were not a necessary condition for his victory," said Lupia, a research professor at the Institute for Social Research.

Secret ballot prevents people from knowing the exact number of Bush 2004 voters who failed to vote for McCain in 2008. However, Lupia used state-level election returns to determine the minimum number of such voters.

For example, a minimum of seven out of every hundred Bush voters in Ohio in 2004 must have done something other than vote for John McCain in 2008. Winning this state was sufficient for Obama to win the Electoral College, Lupia noted.

"Therefore, Bush voters' decisions in Ohio were sufficient to cause Obama to win the election," he said.

Other survey data reinforces the role that Bush voters played in Obama's victory. The 2008 edition of the American National Election Studies Time Series (American National Election Studies 2008)—a project involving U-M and Stanford University researchers—asked more than 2,000 people for whom they voted in the general elections of 2004 and 2008.

Nearly one in four respondents who self-identified as 2004 Bush voters did something other than vote for McCain in 2008. Fifteen percent of these Bush voters voted for Obama in 2008. Another 7 percent chose not to vote at all, the ANES data showed.

Lupia, the Hal R.Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science, conducts research on how voters, political elites, and scientific experts make decisions when they lack important information about consequences

The findings appear in PS: Political Science and Politics.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: PS: Political Science and Politics - www.apsanet.org/PS/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Media bias can net mistakes at the ballot box

Jun 25, 2008

The media slant political news to the left or right to increase ratings and profits, spinning up an information vacuum that can lead to mistakes at the ballot box, a new study by three University of Illinois economists says.

Recommended for you

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

2 hours ago

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) May 21, 2010
All this has been obvious to the most casual observer since election day 2 yrs ago this coming Nov. The first clue was; the percentage of voters in 2008 was virtually unchanged from 2004 but there were millions of new teenage voters.
mvymvy
not rated yet May 23, 2010
By 2012 the National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president.

see www.NationalPopularVote.com

More news stories

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.