I took the average of Barack Obama’s performance in the last three weeks of the Gallup survey and compared it against John Kerry’s from 2004 as according to the national exit poll*. Obama is bettering Kerry’s performance in all groups but one:
Obama’s particular strengths are in the Midwest — that’s how a state like Indiana can be competitive this year — among young voters, and among Hispanics**. The latter two groups are particularly interesting is they have far and away the most untapped potential in terms of improving turnout.
In the Democratic primaries, that potential was realized: the youth vote increased by 52 percent as a share of the Democratic electorate, and the Latino vote increased by 41 percent. But these are not groups that vote in heavy numbers traditionally, and so they may be among the first ones filtered out by likely voter models. They are also probably among the hardest voters to reach in surveys — the youth vote because of the cellphone problem, and Latinos because of language barriers. All yet more reasons why polling is a dodgy and difficult business this year.
Oh, and what is the one group where Obama fails to outperform Kerry? Democrats — although part of that may simply be that the undecideds aren’t allocated in a pre-election poll whereas they have (necessarily) made up their minds by the time they take an exit poll. Kerry won Democrats 89-11; Obama presently leads by an average of 80-11 over the last three weeks of the Gallup poll.
* In a couple of cases, the demographic groups don’t match exactly — Gallup uses slightly different age classifications than the exit polls did — but we pair things up the best we can.
** Although, note that Kerry’s exit poll figure among Latino voters is the subject of some dispute. Looking at state-by-state rather than national exit polls suggests he did a little better than this among Latinos.
TWO MORE NOTES: I am in meetings all day today, and so the daily polling thread is likely to be very tardy. And I deleted the other post that went up this morning, since you all clearly think I’m insane.