In 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected to the Oval Office with the votes of 65.9 million Americans, trimming Republican opponent Mitt Romney by just under 5 million, and winning the electoral vote contest 332 to 206.
But only 58.2 percent of all registered voters took part in that election, though, and only 37 percent of all Americans who are eligible to vote. With such counts in no-shows and unregistered, that means Obama returned to the White House with support from less than 19 percent of all who could have – and should have – voted.
So would the election have turned out differently if all who could vote actually did? That’s what the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog wondered on March 19, just one day after the president spoke about poor voter turnout. Speaking at a Cleveland event on March 18, he said:
It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract [campaign donation] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.
And that statement is quite true, too. WaPo analyzed the demographics of registered voters and all adults in each state, and then applied that information to available exit polls and other state-by-state data to determine the likely results if all of those citizens had voted.
What would election results have been, then? Obama would have won by even bigger margins, although not in each of the same states.
First, check out this chart of the actual 2012 results:
Using the demographic data of ethnicity, the results would have been the same – only an additional three electoral votes – but with some completely different results in particular states. Obama would have won many of the southern states that are ordinarily regarded to be solid Republican, but while losing some of the northeast and northwest states he won in the ’12 race.
And when only using gender demographics, the 2012 presidential race would have been a landslide, WaPo’s “The Fix” found. In that comparison, Obama takes 46 states and 407 electoral votes to Romney’s four and 47.
Of course, these comparisons were based on 100-percent turnout of all eligible voters, not just registered voters. The ’12 results could have still been more in Obama’s favor, though, with just improved turnout from registered voters with the same Dem-leaning demographics. The president noted those same voters in his March 18 address, too:
The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. And they’re the folks who are scratching and climbing to get into the middle class and they’re working hard. There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls. We should want to get them into the polls.
H/T and Images: Washington Post