Looking at the polls, this presidential election season is poised to give birth to the most racially polarized electorate in U.S. history.
Whites are backing Mitt Romney in historic numbers, while Obama is garnering historic levels of support among blacks, Latinos and Asians.
While the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has the president in a dead heat with his GOP opponent, recent surveys show wide swings in support based on race. In other words, it looks like white voters versus everyone else.
Looking at a composite of polls, Obama’s white support averages 37.9 percent, ranging from 35 percent to 41 percent—the share of white support he enjoyed in 2008. Meanwhile, Romney’s portion of the white electorate is somewhere between 53 and 59 percent—20 points higher than Obama in four major polls— if these figures are to be believed.
Meanwhile, among voters of color in general, the President has close to 80 percent support. With African-Americans, support is nearly exclusively in the Obama column at around 95 percent, the share he received in 2008.
Latinos favor the president by a 3-to-1 margin, with Obama maintaining a 74 percent to 26 percent lead, according to LD Vote Predict projections. In a tight race, turnout in the growing Hispanic population is key, though they are underrepresented in the electorate.
Similarly, Americans of Asian descent, now surpassing Latinos as the fastest growing immigrant group, prefer President Obama by an increasingly wide margin.
According to the National Asian American Survey, likely voters of Asian descent back Obama by a 50 to 19 percent margin, with 30 percent of voters undecided.
Among Asian-Americans, Indian-Americans are the most supportive of the president, at 68 percent to 5 percent. The approval rating for Obama in the Indian community is 88 percent, compared to 30 percent for Romney. This comes despite the right-wing anti-Obama stance of the nation’s two Indian-American governors, Nikki Haley (R-South Carolina) and Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana)—darlings of their party and the highest ranking elected officials in white-conservative dominant Southern states.
The survey also found very high support for the president among Japanese and Chinese Americans, strong support from Korean Americans and the least support among Filipino Americans, who are pro-Romney. Meanwhile, Vietnamese voters have been trending away from the GOP candidate.
Ultimately, the only poll that counts is the vote tally on Election Day. For Romney and Obama, it’s all in the numbers. And turnout, or lack of it, provides the key to victory.
According to the Brookings Institution, racial minorities will account for a slightly greater share of the electorate in 2012 than in 2008, with their enthusiasm providing the margin of victory for Obama in battleground states.
In states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia and Florida, Obama can lose the white vote and win the state if minority turnout is high. Stronger white allegiance is the path to a Romney victory, with 60 percent of the white vote conceivably allowing him to overcome scant support from elsewhere.
It is no wonder that people of color support President Obama in impressively large numbers. But there is something hidden behind the numbers.