President Obama and the white vote? No problem.

November 8, 2012

In the run-up to Tuesday's election, there was much talk that President Obama could be headed to a historically poor showing among white voters, a result that could jeopardize his ability to win the overall popular vote.

And, while Obama did lose white voters by 20 points to former Massachusetts governor  Mitt Romney (the widest losing margin for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1984)  he still won a clear popular vote victory -- with a majority of his total vote nationwide coming from white voters.

Take a look at this chart -- from the wizards in the Post's polling unit -- that shows the percentage of white voters supporting the Democratic candidate all the way back to 1972.

Obama's 39 percent showing among white voters matched the percentage that Bill Clinton received in 1992 -- albeit it in a competitive three-way race -- and exceeded the percentage of the white vote earned by Walter Mondale in 1984, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George McGovern in 1972.

And, Obama's showing among white voters mattered less than did Mondale's or Carter's because the white vote accounted for significantly less of the overall electorate in 2012 than it did in either 1984 or 1980. In fact, the white vote as a percentage of the overall electorate has declined in every election since 1992.

In the end, President Obama's "problem" with the white vote wound up being less than advertised -- and certainly less problematic to his political prospects than Mitt Romney's 44-point loss among Hispanic voters.

This chart, again from our friends at the Post polling unit, tells that story better than we can write it.

Just one in every ten Republican voters were non-white. That is the story of the 2012 election.

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Aaron Blake | November 8, 2012