Romney is winning the white vote — by a lot

Political analysts (including The Fix) spend a good bit of time these days talking about important voter groups -- Latino voters and female voters, in particular.

But all of the focus on these groups has obfuscated one fact: Mitt Romney is performing very, very well among white voters. And in fact, most recent polls show him winning the white vote by more than any GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.

Some recent national polls have shown Romney losing the Latino vote by upwards of 40 or 50 points  -- a result that, if it came to pass, would significantly hurt the GOP's chances of winning the White House, given the rapid growth in the Latino population.

But even if Romney sustains a huge loss on the Latino vote, he could very well offset that (and much more) by out-performing his Republican predecessors when it comes to white voters, which are still about seven times as much of the electorate as Latinos. Indeed, it's not unreasonable to think that Romney could win 60 percent or more of white voters this year.

The most recent national polls from four pollsters -- Gallup, Monmouth University, Fox News and the Pew Research Center -- all show Romney winning the white vote by more than 20 points. That's something no GOP presidential candidate has done since Reagan's landslide 1984 reelection win.

(The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, we should note, shows him winning whites by just 11 percent.)

In 2008, white voters made up nearly three-fourths of the vote, while Latinos comprised 9 percent. Let's say that, in the election on Nov. 6, there is a surge in the Latino vote (up to 11 percent of the electorate) and a coinciding drop in the white vote (down to 72 percent).

Given how small the Latino vote remains, the difference between losing it by 36 points -- as John McCain did in 2008 -- and losing it by 45 points -- a worst-case scenario for Romney -- amounts to about a 1 percent overall shift in the national race.

Meanwhile, if Romney won the white vote by 22 percent -- a 10-point improvement over McCain -- that would gain him 7 percent of the national vote over McCain and essentially even out the national popular vote.

None of this is to say, of course, that the Latino vote isn't important. It's a fast-growing part of the electorate and one that Republicans are going to have to start competing better for in the very near future -- and preferably, for them, this year.

And as the Latino vote grows, the white vote becomes less and less of the electorate.

But as far as the 2012 election goes, Romney's strength among white voters could very well offset his and the Republican Party's continued struggles among minorities, and be good enough to win Romney the presidency.

GOP closes early vote deficit in Iowa: Early vote numbers continue to trickle in in Iowa -- the only major swing state that currently has in-person early voting and party registration numbers -- and they're looking better for Republicans.

While Iowa Democrats were voting almost three times as often as Republicans early this month, the GOP has steadily closed the gap. At present, 50 percent of ballots cast are from Democrats and 30 percent are from Republicans.

The GOP lost early voting 47 percent to 29 percent in Iowa in 2008 and lost the state by nine points. So they'll want to continue closing that gap. But they're headed in the right direction right now.

Meanwhile, the GOP is also gaining on absentee ballots in Florida (in-person early voting hasn't begun there), though its current five-point edge is still shy of its 16 percentage point win on absentees in 2008.

Fixbits:

Vice President Biden says Romney was "sketchy" at Tuesday's debate.

Tagg Romney says Obama calling his father a liar made him want to "take a swing at him."

A Chicago Tribune report says Obama will hold his election night party at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Nearly two in five women say abortion is their No. 1 issue in this election.

A top aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) says he will run for his fourth full term in 2014.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) endorses his former Democratic colleague, ex-senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.).

Must-reads:

"The Four Ls and Four States: What's Next in the Obama-Romney Duel" -- Major Garrett, National Journal

"George Allen shows a more cautious, humbler side" -- Marc Fisher, Washington Post

"As Governor, Romney’s Eagerness to Hire Women Faded" -- Michael Wines, New York Times 

"Romney’s first step into political arena, vs. Ted Kennedy in 1994, was a cautious one" -- Jason Horowitz, Washington Post

"Obama, Romney look for advantage from second debate" -- Jerry Markon, Washington Post

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