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Bob Beatty: Kansas vote was much different from nation

  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, at 12 a.m.

Kansas has gone for the Republican nominee for president since 1968, and 2012 was no different. Mitt Romney defeated President Obama by 22 percentage points (60 to 38 percent) in the Sunflower State, an increase of 8 percentage points over GOP nominee John McCain’s vote share in 2008. Nationally, Obama defeated Romney by 3.3 percent (50.8 to 47.5 percent).

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 and nationally. On the whole, 2012 produced more differences than similarities.

First, on Election Day, 48 percent of Kansas voters identified themselves as Republicans, the second-highest percentage of Republicans voting (as a percentage of state voters) in any state except Wyoming. In Kansas, 27 percent of voters identified as Democrats, and 24 percent as members of no party. Nationally, the numbers were 38 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican and 29 percent independent. One similarity is that nationally, independent voters went for Romney 50 to 45 percent, and in Kansas they went for Romney 51 to 43 percent.

Looking at the numbers in terms of race: Nationally, white voters made up 72 percent of all voters, and they went for Romney by 20 points (59 to 39 percent). In Kansas, whites were 87 percent of all voters and went for Romney by 31 points (64 to 33 percent). White men went for Romney by 27 points nationally (62 to 35 percent), but in Kansas 74 percent of all white men voted for Romney, giving him a 50-point advantage over Obama.

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 to 44 percent). In Kansas, Romney won the female vote by 4 points (51 to 47 percent).

Among unmarried women, Kansas was a bit closer to the national numbers, with Obama winning by a 19-point advantage in Kansas (58 to 39 percent). Nationally, he won unmarried women by 36 points (67 to 31 percent).

Romney won the male vote in Kansas by a whopping 40 points (69 to 29 percent). Nationally, Romney won men by 7 points (52 to 45 percent).

Across age categories, Romney significantly outperformed Obama in Kansas compared with the president’s national numbers. Among younger voters, ages 18-29, Romney won by 13 points (54 to 41 percent), while nationally Obama won those voters by 23 points (60 to 37 percent). Among voters ages 30-44, in Kansas Romney won by 20 points (59 to 39 percent), while nationally Obama won by 7 points (52 to 45 percent). Among voters ages 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 65 and older, Romney won in Kansas by 22 points and won nationally by 12 points.

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 was true. In Kansas, 60 percent of voters had an unfavorable opinion of Obama, while 39 percent had a favorable opinion. Nationally, 53 percent of voters thought of the president favorably while 46 percent thought of him unfavorably.

Bob Beatty teaches political science at Washburn University in Topeka.

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