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Romney still runs best among affluent voters

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

There was no real competition in Tuesday’s five presidential primaries, no exit polls were conducted and turnout was pitifully low. But one pattern stands out in the county-by-county returns: Mitt Romney continues to run strongest in high-income suburban and urban areas. In New York he won 75% of the vote in the four major suburban counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland), 70% in New York City and 56% Upstate. In Pennsyvania he won 66% in metro Philadelphia, 57% in metro Pittsburgh and 55% in the rest of the state. In each of the other three states voting Romney won his highest percentage in the most affluent suburban county—Fairfield County, Connecticut; Bristol County, Rhode Island and New Castle County, Delaware. Back in my March 11 Examiner column I looked at this phenomenon and speculated on whether Romney’s appeal to upscale Republican primary voters would extend to a greater appeal among affluent voters in non-Southern suburbs than the last three Republican presidential nominees. Recently Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard and Josh Kraushaar of National Journal have written about the same phenomenon.

Kraushaar also makes the interesting point that gay voters, a relatively affluent group, may be turned off by Barack Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Exit polls show that the 3% of voters identifying themselves as gay or lesbian were the only demographic group among whom John McCain won a larger percentage of the vote than George W. Bush had in 2004. Kraushaar speculates that Obama’s refusal may be due to his attempts to woo blue collar voters. I think it’s more likely motivated by the same fear that I think (as I wrote in my August 20, 2011, Examiner column) has prevented Obama from endorsing same-sex marriage: a fear that it will diminish the enthusiasm of black voters, who tend to be strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (70% of them voted against it in California’s 2008 referendum on Proposition 8).  

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner