Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
There were many important results on election night and I was with a huge group of voters in Des Moines, Iowa as we covered the returns live. I talked to dozens of Iowa voters and can report some of the tipping points of the voters present watching the flat screen returns and also the exit polls.
Tammy Baldwin (D-Indiana) first openly gay woman elected to the Senate and she defeated the legendary Tommy Thompson. This is a clearly a historic event.
Two same-sex marriage initiatives pass for the first time by the voters and not the courts or legislature in Maine and Maryland. This issue is not settled yet because these are very blue states. BUT even many Republicans are moving toward supporting gay marriage, so I expect that over time this issue will decline as a leading edge issue for the GOP. The trend and the math seems not to be on their side.
Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, the two politicians who ran on harsh platforms on rape and abortion (and a seeming) contempt for women not only lost their bids for the Senate, but they “nationalized” this issue and contaminated the Republican party in the eyes of women.
Women gave Obama 55 percent to Romney’s 43 percent - a massive gender gap that has to be a huge alarm bell to Republicans. This remains unchanged from 2008. Unmarried women backed the President 68 percent to 30 percent for Mitt Romney.
Obama won the youth vote by a comfortable margin 24 points and surprisingly the overall turnout of young voters was up slightly over 2008. Most pundits had concluded that there was an enthusiasm gap among these voters, a claim that I repeatedly disputed because I attended many rallies where young voters turned out in record numbers and they were totally pumped.
The return was an astonishing 71 percent Latino vote for Obama. That’s the worst any Republican has gotten since modern polling and of course, this is a growing demographic.
Politico reported that Obama, ”… won 70 percent of the Jewish vote, down from 78 percent in 2008, and he won Catholic voters 50 percent to 47 percent. Romney carried Protestant voters by a 13-point margin, 56 percent to 43 percent.”
In Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins who was one of the Supreme Court justices in the unanimous court ruling favoring gay marriage was retained in n interesting and fiercely fought retention contest. For the first time a retention race in Iowa was a contest just like any partisan election with the “Vote NO” partisans running a bus tour of the state BUT the “Vote Yes!” forces supporting Wiggins also renting a huge bus and following the no bus throughout the state.
While doing poorly with these voters Obama won among self-described “moderates” harvesting 57 percent to 41 percent for Romney.
Obama did poorly with men, garnering 45 percent, compared with 52 percent for Romney.
The Tea Party has said that Mitt Romney was a weak, middle of the road candidate selected by the “elite establishment” of the Republican Party and they argue that’s why the Republicans lost the White House. That is a bad omen for how the Tea Party Republicans will position themselves for the next election cycle – it seems to me that they will choose someone more conservative than Romney next time. By the way, congressman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota was reelected in a squeaky tight race, which could encourage her to start running again for 2016.