Monday, February 25, 2008

Gapology: The Democrats

As promised, I've put together some data on voting gaps in the Democratic primary electorate. I'll present the same for Republicans at a later date.

Again, a couple of caveats are in order. First, these data are only for those primary/caucus states for which exit/entrance poll data are available. Second, in some instances, the gaps may seem substantial but are based on relatively few cases for at least one of the categories. For instance, Iowa had a large race gap (below) but the Democratic electorate was only 4% African-American. In these cases, the overall impact of the "gap" may not be as important as it appears.

First, the oft-referenced gender gap.


Here we see a consistent pattern of Clinton faring better among female voters and Obama faring better among male voters. It is important to point out, though, that this does not mean that Clinton won the female vote, nor that Obama won the male vote, in every case. It also doesn't mean that large gender gaps always help Senator Clinton. In fact, the largest gender gap thus far was in Wisconsin (from whence this blog is written), where Clinton and Obama split the female vote and Obama won the male vote by thirty-six points.

As expected, there is also a substantial race gap.


The figure above shows a persistent and quite large gap in candidate support between White and African-American voters. While Whites(on average, across the states where both sides of the gap can be measured) favor Clinton by approximately 17 percentage points, African-Americans favor Obama by 63 percentage points.

The generation gap is also very real, with Clinton faring best among older voters and Obama drawing greater support from younger voters.


I should mention here that the age groups used above are not always the same. In a couple of states, the young group was 17-29 and in a couple of others, the older group was 65+.

Finally, we turn to the income gap.


As per media accounts we see Clinton running best among lower income groups and Obama running best among higher income groups, with just a couple of state showing the opposite pattern. Again, though, this does not mean that Clinton consistently won among low income voters or that Obama consistently won among high income voters; just that they tended to do better among those groups.

The figure below summarizes the average size of the voting gaps:


The race and generational gaps are clearly most substantial, followed gender and income. I'm not sure how this fits with the media accounts of the race. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Joe said...

It would be interesting to see how age is interacting with the other variables. Seems like the age gap is the one most worthy of investigation.
If the younger section of the electorate represents a "generation" (and I think it does), it is amazing how its ideal candidate emerged, career-wise, just as the generation arrives at the point where it is large and distinct enough to assert itself as a bloc.