Since 1968 Kansas has gone for the Republican nominee for President, and 2012 was no different. By a wide 22 point margin (60%-38%), Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama in the Sunflower state, an increase of eight points over John McCain’s vote share in 2008. Nationally, Obama defeated Romney by 3.3% (50.8%-47.5%). Beyond the election results, presidential election years also offer an opportunity – by using exit poll data – to analyze any similarities and differences between group preferences in Kansas versus national group preferences. On whole, 2012 produced more differences than similarities.
First, on election day, 48% of Kansas voters identified themselves as Republicans, the second highest percentage of Republicans voting (as a % of state voters) in any state except for Wyoming. 27% identified as Democrats and 24% as members of no party. Nationally, the numbers were 38% Democrat, 32% Republican, and 29% independent. One similarity is that nationally independent voters went for Romney 50% – 45% and in Kansas they went for Romney 51% - 43%.
Looking at the numbers in terms of race, nationally, white voters made up 72% of all voters, and they went for Romney by 20 points (59%-39%), while in Kansas they were 87% of all voters and went for Romney by 31 points (64%-33%). White men went for Romney by 27 points nationally (62%-35%), but in Kansas 74% of all white men voted for Romney, giving him a 50 point advantage over Obama (74%-24%).
One of the reasons that Obama was able to win a second term was the support he received from women, winning that group of voters nationally by 11 points, 55%-44%. In Kansas, however, Romney won the female vote by 4 points, 51%-47%, and won the male vote by a whopping 40 points, 69%-29%. Nationally Romney won men by much less, 7 points, 52%-45%. An interesting subset of the female vote that has received a lot of attention is unmarried women. In this category Kansas lies a bit closer to the national numbers, with Obama winning by a 19 point advantage in Kansas, 58%-39%. Nationally, he won unmarried women by 36 points, 67%-31%. Romney won married men by 22 points nationwide but by 46 points in Kansas.
One large divergence between Kansas and the nation in terms of the Obama vote lies in the different age categories. Across ages Romney significantly outperformed Obama in Kansas compared to the President’s national numbers. Among younger voters, aged 18-29, Romney won by 13 points, 54%-41%, while nationally Obama won those voters by a 23 point margin, 60%-37%; Among voters aged 30-44, in Kansas Romney won by 20 points (59%-39%) while nationally Obama won by 7 points (52%-45%); Among voters aged 45-64, in Kansas Romney won by a massive 27 points, while nationally he won that group by a much smaller 4 points; Among voters aged 65 and older, Romney won in Kansas by 22 points and won nationally by 12 points.
Finally, in what should not be a big surprise given the actual results, the Kansas exit polls showed that the majority of voters here did not think too kindly of the president, while nationally, the opposite is true. In Kansas 60% of voters had an unfavorable opinion of President Obama while 39% had a favorable opinion, a 21 point negative margin. Nationally, 53% of voters thought of the president favorably while 46% thought of him unfavorably, a 7 point positive margin.
Page 2 of 2 - Dr. Bob Beatty is a political scientist and political analyst for Kansas First News in Topeka.