The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Obama defectors

Barring some kind of last-minute surge, President Obama is going to fall well shy of the 52.9 percent  he won in the 2008 election. It might still be good enough to win, but it won't be resounding.

But just who exactly has deserted Obama over the last four years?

Two weeks of Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll interviews find 84 percent of likely voters who supported Obama in 2008 support him this year, while 13 percent say they are switching to Romney and 3 percent are backing others or haven’t made up their mind yet.

The chart below shows the erosion of Obama’s 2008 coalition among many key demographics:

Among the most likely to defect are the usual suspects: Republicans and conservatives who crossed over to vote for Obama in 2008, along with white evangelicals and white men without college degrees. Obama already struggled with these groups, so no surprise here.

What's perhaps most striking is who the rest of Obama's defectors are. While much of the focus has been on how Obama has turned off white men, his defectors run the gamut.

Obama is losing 16 percent of white non-evangelical Protestants who previously supported him to Romney, but also 19 percent of white Catholics. While he has lost 21 percent of his non-college-educated white men, he has also lost 17 percent of white male college graduates and 18 percent of women who didn't attain four-year degrees. And Obama has lost between 11 percent and 14 percent of supporters in all three age groups: under 40 years old, 40-64, and 65-plus.

(Yes, many of these groups are white, but within the white demographic -- which is still roughly three-fourths of the electorate -- the even distribution of defectors is notable.)

Less obvious -- and a positive sign for Obama -- is his high retention rate among Hispanics and those with no religious affiliation. Both are fast-growing groups in the population and supported Obama at record levels in 2008. If they do so again, it will certainly help Obama offset his losses among other demographics.

Other groups that have stuck by Obama with few exceptions are liberals and those making less than $50,000 per year. Not surprisingly, these are the people Obama has focused his message on throughout this campaign, particularly his push to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire.

Romney and the Republicans, meanwhile, have used varied tactics to pick off dissatisfied barnacles of Obama’s 2008 voting bloc. Speaking to the Republican National Convention in August, Romney reasoned, “If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” And the Republican National Committee produced an ad entitled “The Breakup,” in which a woman abandons a life-size Obama cutout at a restaurant table because she's fed up with him. (Other groups have run similar ads.)

It's pretty clear that many types of Americans are breaking up with Obama in their own way, and if Obama loses, it won't be because he lost favor with any one particular group. The breakup would in fact be pretty universal.

Jobs report today: The last jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics before Tuesday's election comes out this morning at 8:30 a.m., and all eyes in the political world will be on it.

At the same time, neither a bad report for Obama two months ago nor a good one last month seemed to have much effect on the presidential race.

We wouldn't expect today's report -- barring some shocking numbers -- to be any different. But the numbers are likely to be used in talking points for one or both sides in the final days of the campaign.

Romney and Ryan both going to Pennsylvania: Both men on the GOP presidential ticket will go to Pennsylvania this weekend -- a reflection of how important the state has become to its path to victory.

Paul Ryan will be in the state on Saturday, while Romney will go on Sunday.

In response, Democrats noted that many Republican presidential candidates have made late pushes in Pennsylvania, only to come up short.

"In an act of sheer desperation, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going all in in Pennsylvania, following the lead of every Republican presidential candidate since 1992 who have made last ditch investments in the Keystone State. Not one of them carried the state," Obama spokesman Michael Czin said in a statement.

As we wrote Wednesday, the Romney campaign's insistence on putting states like Pennsylvania in play may have as much to do with its lack of a path to victory in the current crop of "tossup" states as it does with how competitive Pennsylvania looks right now.

Republicans have also made late investments in Minnesota, Michigan and even New Mexico. All are expected to go for Obama.


Romney hits Obama on his "bayonets and horses" comment while in Virginia, a state with lots of defense jobs.

Romney will debut his closing argument Friday in Wisconsin.

A Democratic former congressman from Ohio endorses Romney.

Incredibly, Republican candidates can't seem to stop talking about rape and pregnancy.

Rep. Jon Runyan's (R-N.J.) opponent pulls a radio ad that compared him to Hurricane Sandy.

Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) campaign is up with a new ad using Romney's criticisms of Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) against Akin.

Montana GOP governor candidate Rick Hill has loaned his campaign $100,000 after a judge froze the rest of his funds.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) is suing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for libel.


"In 5 Great Lakes states, some hotly contested terrain in presidential campaign" -- Joel Achenbach and Michael S. Williamson, Washington Post

"The Benghazi Drip-Drip-Drip" -- Jake Tapper, ABC News

"A Different Poll Question: Who Do You Think Will Win?" -- David Leonhardt, New York Times

"Romney Advance Team Works Every Angle in Pursuit of Visual Perfection" -- Ashley Parker, New York Times

"Warning from Ohio: Don't be misled by early election day results" -- Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times

"Allen West and Alan Grayson: Florida’s bipartisan contribution to partisanship" -- Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post