Republicans spoke after the 2012 election of recognizing their large gap with some Democratic-leaning demographic groups (DLDGs) and their poor long-term electoral prospects as a consequence. Republican outreach efforts, for all that Democrats have found such efforts laughable, have … justified the laughter*.
OK, I’m a strange one to engage in a bit of snark considering I wrote that whole series on the need for Democrats to win more white voters. I still think that’s the case, but part of the case has not materialized, specifically the part about Republicans cutting into that gap with DLDGs. The assumption was actually a refusal to assume, namely refusing to assume Republicans would have no success. There was a chance they would make a serious effort, wouldn’t bumble it all, wouldn’t undermine themselves at every turn, and might enjoy some success. Not a lot of success, not like flipping young voters or women voters, but they didn’t need to. Cutting off a few percent would be enough to flip election results, and couldn’t count on them not doing it. Except it looks like they haven’t trimmed a few percent and have bumbled it all, judging by this Quinnipiac poll on the 2016 presidential election in Florida.
Readers who follow politics regularly can probably fill in the caveats, but just so nobody gets left behind, that poll is just about Florida. It’s about only the presidential election. The 2016 election is a long way off. The pollster asked about a bunch of Republican candidates but only about Hillary Clinton in the head-to-head matchups, so she could muck up the whole thing by not running.
However, Florida is the third biggest state and a swing state, the biggest contested prize in the electoral college (unless Democrats make Texas competitive sooner than reasonably expected), so we do care. Candidates have to care about the poll results because they have to decide in about a year whether to run, and what’s most important to our main point, the demographic fundamentals still matter. They’re the interesting part, in terms of what changed since last election, or, as readers might have inferred from the first couple paragraphs, haven’t changed.
In the breakdowns of the head-to-head matchups, my eye was caught by the age breakdown. Regardless of the matchup, voters 18-29 supported Clinton by 60-something to 20-something. Results varied, but within that narrow range. Of course, narrowing the deficit by a few points could matter, but the difference between one Republican and another was close enough to maybe be just noise. Compare that to the national youth vote, where Obama won 60-36 in 2012, and 66-31 in 2008. So Clinton’s lead, regardless of opponent, is right around Obama’s 2008 win and better than 2012. Voters 30-49 and 50-64 leaned to Clinton, and only voters over 65 leaned Republican. If you’re thinking you already looked at the results in 2012 so you already knew this, well, now you know it hasn’t changed.
I won’t say there was nothing interesting in the candidate matchups. Floridians gave Clinton a two-point lead over their former governor Jeb Bush, and she did even better against Marco Rubio, so the good news there is picking a Floridian candidate merely makes the Republicans competitive. The biggest lead, 16 points, was over Ted Cruz.
The most interesting bit for Democrats might be the question on the Democratic primary. Clinton has 70%, and nobody else had enough to matter. I don’t recall where similar polls had her at this stage of the 2008 cycle, assuming there even were any such polls. I’m incredulous at the idea she was this dominant. If she runs, the nomination is probably decided. If she doesn’t, there’s no frontrunner.
*For some extra fun, Republicans are opening an office for outreach to African-Americans in Detroit, probably a good idea, but the keynote address for the opening is being delivered by Rand Paul, who vowed federal help for Detroit would come over his dead body. The clueless express rolls on.