Taranto Does the Math

In his column yesterday James Taranto does the math and comes up with the point I’ve been making for quite a while now:

In treating turnout as an afterthought, Tomasky gets it exactly backward. The 2% increase in black turnout was considerably more significant than the seven-point improvement in the Democratic margin among black voters. The total number of votes cast in 2004 was 122.3 million. What if 7% of black voters had switched from Bush to Kerry? That’s 7% of 11% (the total black share of the electorate) of 122.3 million, or about 940,000 votes.

The total number of votes cast in 2008 was 131.5 million. The difference between 11% and 13% black turnout is roughly 2% of the total electorate, or 2.6 million votes. Further, the black electorate grew from 11% of 122.3 million (13.5 million) to 13% of 131.5 million (17.1 million), an increase of 3.6 million, or 27%. That is more than twice the number of blacks who voted for Bush in 2004.

That’s why the constant news of the Clinton’s scandals will be so damaging to the Democrats. It won’t affect the votes of their strongest supporters. They’ll turn out and faithfully vote the straight Democratic ticket. But it will discourage those who aren’t their strongest supporters from turning out to vote at all.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The 2016 election will hinge on turnout. Whoever’s voters turn out will win. Not the candidate whose constituencies are sewed up most tightly.

4 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    Turnout is the big reason I think Hillary & Jeb’s best chances in the general election are against each other. While Hillary will get some fired up to vote against her, the idea of yet another Bush will diminish that enthusiasm on the right. Similarly going the other way.

    I just can’t see Jeb winning against a guy like O’Malley, who will seem like a breathe of fresh air, nor can I see Hillary winning against a Rubio or Cruz. It won’t even be about any merits at that point, simply a desire to get past the history the others bring with them.

    (All of those suppose no one does anything really exceptionally stupid to blow a campaign.)

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    And congratulations to the New York Times. Yesterday they ran their SECOND piece of the week that was effectively anti-immigration (specifically anti-H-1B visa program), and they managed, at least for a day, to make Marco Rubio the Hero of the Right. If that’s all they’ve dug up on him after all this time, he MUST be a clean politician. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

  • Never underestimate the ability of politicians to do something stupid.

    And the transition of our news media into opposition research arms of the Democratic Party has officially become an embarrassment.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I must not be up to math standards for journalist because I find Taranto’s explanation confusing. It would be simpler to say that the denominator is usually more important than the numerator. I don’t think it is a numbers issue though, political activists find it easier to imagine getting more of their constituency out than trying to figure out how to expand the base.

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