Thursday, January 5, 2012

Campaigning like a nominee?

Charles Stewart III has a really nice quickie analysis comparing the county-level Republican caucus votes in Iowa in 2012 and 2008. There are a couple of cool findings in there. One is that the strongest correlation from one cycle to the next comes from the Huckabee '08 vote versus the Bachmann + Perry + Santorum vote -- basically, the social conservatives. It reinforces the idea of the Iowa Republican caucus goers being divided pretty neatly into three persistent camps: social conservatives, business Republicans, and libertarians.

The other cool finding was that Romney's 2012 caucus vote correlates slightly better with McCain's 2008 vote than it does with Romney's 2008 vote. This means... something. I'm not entirely sure what. I like to think that it means that Romney, the likely nominee this year, absorbed some of the infrastructure and tactics of McCain, the eventual nominee four years ago. But that may be a stretch.


Richard Skinner said...

Romney performed slightly worse with evangelicals and self-identified conservatives in '12 than he did in '08.

Geographically, his 2012 support was more concentrated in the Des Moines area, while he lost ground in rural Iowa.

Remember that he tried to run as the conservative alternative to McCain & Giuliani. This did not succeed because of Huckabee's candidacy and evangelicals' hostility to a Mormon candidate. Romney was stuck with a base that consisted of (conservatives - evangelicals), which just wasn't enough to win. After Giuliani imploded, McCain dominated among moderates and independents, and was competitive with Romney among moderate-to-conservative Republicans.

This year, Romney has had moderate and moderate-to-conservative Republicans mostly to himself, so he was able to absorb most of McCain's old support. Meanwhile, at least a few of his more conservative 2008 voters presumably defected to other candidates.

Richard Skinner said...

Two other points worth noting:

(1) Newt Gingrich's support didn't correlate with anything. This reflects the findings of the entrance poll that he mostly scored between 10-15% among all demographic groups. Only senior citizens stood out as a particular source of support.

(2) I haven't seen any evidence that Rick Santorum did especially well among his fellow Catholics. Mitt Romney won 38% of non-evangelical voters, and I suspect his numbers among Catholics were stronger than that. Heavily Catholic northeast Iowa mostly voted for Romney and Ron Paul.