The 2012 election in charts

November 7, 2012

From shifting demographics to the issues that swayed voters to judging the pundits and pollsters, here are our key charts from the 2012 elections. 

1) Overall, the electorate was less white than in it was 2008 — the share of white voters fell from 74 percent to 72 percent, while the share of Asian and Hispanic voters both rose a point:

Source: Exit polling data

2) But in some states, the racial composition of the electorate has changed dramatically since 2008. In Florida, for instance, the share of Hispanic voters rose from 14 percent to 17 percent:

Source: Exit polling data

3) The electorate was roughly the same age as in 2008, with a slightly bigger slice of younger voters age 18-29 (19 percent this time versus 18 percent in 2008):

Source: Exit polling data

4) The gender composition of the electorate stayed exactly the same ...

Source: Exit polling data

5) While the electorate was slightly better educated in this election, with the percent of voters with a college degree up from 44 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2012:

Source: Exit polling data

6) The 2012 election saw a big surge in the share of unmarried voters, who made up 41 percent of the electorate, up from 34 percent in 2008:

Source: Exit polling data

7) The economy was far and way the most important issue for most voters:


8) While Republicans and Democrats differed over what they considered the key issues in the election:

 

Source: Preliminary exit polling data

 

Source: Preliminary exit polling data

 

Source: Preliminary exit polling data

 

9) Foreign Policy's Dan Drenzer notes that this is the first exit poll in decades where voters have trusted the Democratic candidate to handle an international crisis more than the Republican contender.


Source: Preliminary exit polling data

10) Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker report this morning that the Obama campaign focused on painting Romney as a "protector of the privileged." Early exit polls suggest that worked.

Source: Preliminary exit polling data

 11) How did the pundits do? Nate Silver's and Alan Abramowitz's models appeared to come closest to predicting the popular vote:

12) But not all pollsters did well. Rasmussen's polling, for instance, consistently overestimated Romney:

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