The basic formula for an Obama victory is 80-40 (get 80% of the nonwhite vote and 40% of the white vote); Romney’s formula is 25-60 (25% of the nonwhite vote; 60% of the white vote). Therefore the following, based on a recent survey, ought to be a cause for cheer among Democrats:
Among whites, Obama wins 41 percent compared to Romney’s 51 percent. Obama’s showing is down slightly from the 43 percent among whites he attracted in 2008 but still enough for the president to prevail in both sides’ calculations. With more whites than non-whites either undecided or saying they intend to support another candidate, Romney is not nearly approaching the roughly three-in-five support among them he’ll likely need to win.
What makes this especially grim for Romney is that just 8% of the remaining white vote in this survey appears to be up for grabs. In other words, even if all of the 8% of undecided or uncommitted white voters break for Romney on election day, he still only reaches 59% of the white vote. In all likelihood, this remaining 8% will (at best) break 5-3 in Romney’s favor, giving him perhaps 56% of the white vote. This difficulty in getting 60% of whites to reliably vote Republican is why Butters (Senator Lindsey Graham) has publicly worried that there may not be enough “angry white guys” left in America to carry the right to victories in future elections, including this one.
Put simply, Obama should be polling in the low to mid-30s with white voters so that when the previously undecideds break for one candidate or the other, Romney has a shot at keeping Obama under 40% with them. But Obama’s already past that. Not good (if you’re a Republican).
And it should be noted that, historically, no Republican candidate has ever reached 60% of the white vote. Not Nixon, not Reagan, not Bush Sr. or Jr.
Yet this is what Romney appears to be banking on: unprecedented enthusiasm for his candidacy combined with Obama hatred to get his numbers to top 60% among whites.
Since this formula is unlikely to be sufficient, it means the last month before election day could get extremely ugly and we could find Republicans desperately trying to suppress Democratic turnout in swing states through voter suppression methods.