Guess what? The polls (and Nate Silver) were right.

November 7, 2012

There was plenty of GOP griping toward the end of the 2012 election that pollsters were skewing their samples too Democratic.

How could the electorate be nearly as friendly for Obama as it was in 2008 when 2008 was such a good year for Democrats, people argued.

Well guess what. The electorate wasn't just almost as friendly for Obama; it was probably more friendly.

Exit polls from last night show Democrats, who had a seven-point turnout edge in 2008, rivaled that on Tuesday, winning the turnout battle by 6 percentage points, 38 percent Democratic to 32 percent Republican.

But when it comes to key demographics, the electorate actually likely skewed more Democratic/liberal than in 2008.

The electorate was less white (from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent this year), more Latino (9 percent to 10 percent), just as African-American (13 percent to 13 percent), more female (53 percent to 54 percent), more low-income (38 percent making less than $50,000 in 2008 to 41 percent Tuesday) and -- perhaps most remarkably, younger (18 percent to 19 percent).

It all suggests that Obama's laser-like focus on turning out each of his key constituencies -- minorities, women and young people -- paid dividends.

And in many cases, these groups backed him as much or more as in 2008.

Women gave Obama 55 percent of the vote and low-income voters gave him 60 percent, about the same as four years ago.

Latinos gave Obama 67 percent of their vote four years ago, and 71 percent on Tuesday.

And Democrats supported Obama even more than they did four years ago, with his share of the Democratic vote rising from 89 percent to 92 percent.

(To see all these shifts, make sure to check out the Post polling team's great interactive exit poll graphic.)

Republicans gave Nate Silver a hard time for projecting that Obama would win 313 electoral votes. If Obama carries Florida (as it appears he will), he will have won 332 electoral votes.

Yep, the polls (and pollsters) were right.

Senate Democrats may expand majority: Senate Democrats may have pulled an improbable feat on Tuesday, potentially gaining seats in an election in which their majority was supposed to be in danger.

Democratic victories in tossup states Virginia and Wisconsin gave them 52 seats, and 53 seats if independent Maine Sen.-elect Angus King caucuses with them, as many expect. That's as many as they currently have.

Three Western states had yet to be called early Wednesday morning, but Democrat Heidi Heitkamp led by 1.6 points in North Dakota with 96 percent of precincts reporting, and Democrats also had good chances in Montana and Nevada. (To stay up to date on these races, check out our live results page.)

By the end of the night, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) admitted defeat.

"It’s clear that with our losses in the presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party," Cornyn said. "While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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