30/30/40 Nation

November 8, 2012

(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

Barack Obama’s win has a potentially huge effect on policy. The current budget negotiations will affect the level and direction of government spending and on the mix of taxes paid by different groups of Americans. We can guess that a President Romney would have fought hard against upper-income tax increases. Other areas of long-term impact include the government’s stance on global warming, foreign policy, and the likelihood that Obama will nominate new Supreme Court justices who will uphold the right to abortion announced in Roe v. Wade.

When it comes to public opinion, the story is different. The Democrats may well benefit in 2014 and 2016 from the anticipated slow but steady recovery of the economy over the next few years—but, as of November 6, 2012, the parties are essentially tied, with Barack Obama receiving 51% of the two-party vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 49%, a split comparable to Al Gore’s narrow victory in 2000, Richard Nixon’s in 1968, and John Kennedy’s in 1960. Over the next few months, you will be hearing a lot about Obama’s non-mandate, and rightly so.

But here I want to talk about a slightly different split of the voting-eligible population: the approximately 30% who voted for Obama, the nearly identical number who chose Romney, and the 40% who did not vote at all or who voted for minor-party candidates. . . .

See my Daily News article for the full story.

For more background, see this post from a few years ago on the differences between voters and nonvoters. I really do think it would be a good idea for us to talk less about 50/50 America and more about the 30/30/40 split.

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