Despite their weak candidate, Republicans increased their share of the presidential vote among many major demographic groups. Compared with 2008, they made significant gains among men (four percentage points), whites (four points), younger voters (six points), white Catholics (seven points) and Jews (nine points). Mr. Romney also carried the independent vote 50% to 45%. Four years ago, independents voted for Mr. Obama 52% to 44%.There's still a lot of work to do, but I think digging down into the data will help Republicans (if not conservatives) grapple with their loss last week. That said, I think spirits are still pretty depressed on the right, so it's going to take a lot more than a few poll analyses for a lot of folks to snap out of it. Of course, this Petraeus scandal is dramatically weakening the credibility of Obama's reelection, so there's promise not only in congressional investigations, but in the invigoration of the grassroots against the historically corrupt administration. People gotta start taking this country back. It can be done and it will be done.
Republicans can take some solace from these gains. In addition, only 43% of voters this year said they wanted an activist government (compared with 52% in 2008), and 49% continued to disapprove of Mr. Obama's health-care law (compared with 44% approving).
In short, the current American electorate is hardly stacked against the Republican Party. But Republicans should recognize that, on balance, Americans remain moderate—holding a mix of liberal and conservative views. They generally believe that small government is better and that ObamaCare is bad. But the exit poll shows that 59% believe abortion should be legal, 65% support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and a surprising plurality support legalizing same-sex marriage in their states.
Threading the ideological needle with this electorate is vital for the Republicans in the future—and for the Democrats, too.
The Current American Electorate Is Hardly Stacked Against the Republican Party
An encouraging piece from left-wing polling guru Andrew Kohut, at the Wall Street Journal, "Misreading Election 2012":