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Buyer’s Remorse

How Rank and File Democrats are Rejecting Their ‘Inevitable’ Nominee
Guest post by Paul Lukasiak


Ever since the media declared that Barack Obama was “inevitable” after February 19th, based on a two week period when the an unprepared Hillary Clinton campaign suffered “10 straight losses”, rank and file Democratic voters have been sending a message. Rather than rally ‘round the “inevitable nominee” that message has been a consistent, loud, and clear message to the Democratic Party – DO NOT WANT.

In nearly every demographic category since February 19, Clinton percentage of the vote has risen, while Obama’s has fallen. This includes Obama’s supposed “strong” demographic categories such as voters with college degrees post-graduate degrees and voters whose income is above the national median. And Clinton beat Obama in the primaries in March, April and May in most of the major categories.

In the aftermath of Super Tuesday, John McCain was anointed by the media as the inevitable nominee – and with good reason. McCain had accumulated 740 of the necessary 1129 “pledged” delegates necessary to clinch the GOP nomination, and all he had to do was win 40% of the remaining delegates against two “non-mainstream” Republican challengers (Huckabee and Paul). Rank and file Republicans accepted McCain as their nominee, and McCain won every contest held subsequent to Super Tuesday with the exception of the Louisiana primary held on February 9th..and that contest he lost by only 1% (43% to 42%).

McCain may not have been the choice of the majority of Republicans, but once he was declared the “inevitable nominee”, rank and file Republicans closed ranks behind McCain. Despite doing virtually no campaigning at all, McCain has been able to garner at least 50% of the vote in every other primary contest held subsequent to Super Tuesday.

But Democratic voters refused to accept the pronouncements of the pundits and “analysts”, and have voted in overwhelming numbers in support of Hillary Clinton. Not only did Clinton pick up the support that Obama lost, Clinton has picked up a lot of the support that, in February, had gone to other candidates. Moreover, the electorate in the Democratic primaries looked a lot more like the “general electorate” in the 2004 Presidential election.

(see NOTE 1 for methodology. Charts and accompanying data can be found at Full state-by-state exit poll data used in this article can be found at


Once voters realized that Obama would be the nominee, his support within most demographic categories declined, and declined significantly in most cases. Obama’s support declined overall by 2.3%

* Obama’s support among men declined by 2%,
* Obama’s support declined among women by 1.2%,
* Obama’s support declined among White voters by 4.8%,
* Obama’s support declined among Hispanic/Latino voters by 3.2%,
* Obama’s support declined among White males by 6.7%, and
* Obama’s support declined among White females by 3.6%.


Clinton’s overall support, on the other hand, increased by 4.7%

* Clinton’s support increased among Males by 6.0%,
* Clinton’s support increased among Females by 3.1%,
* Clinton’s support increased among White voters by 6.2%,
* Clinton’s support increased among Hispanic/Latino voters by 2.6%,
* Clinton’s support increased among White males by 10.8%, and
* Clinton’s support increased among White females by 6.0%.

Clinton’s support not merely increased on all these categories between February and March-May, but she attracted considerable support from voters who had supported other candidates in February.

* Overall, Clinton gained an extra 2.2% over and above Obama’s loss of support,
* Among Males, an extra 3.4% more than Obama lost,
* Among White voters an extra 3.4%, and
* Among White males an extra 4.1%.

Obama did manage to increase his support among African Americans overall by 5.4%, among Black men by 6.7%, and among Black women by 9.6%. But when that data is weighed in terms of the overall electorate, the impact of those changes is small. Thus, Obama’s net increase in support among African American voters represents only 1.8% of the Democratic electorate, while Clinton’s net increase in support from White voters represents 8.4% of the Democratic primary electorate. Clinton’s overall net increase of 6.7% of the primary electorate is a clear sign that ‘buyers remorse’ has set in.



As a result of “buyers remorse”, Barack Obama went from winning the overall vote by 2.7% (49.5% to 46.8%) in the February primaries to losing among all voters in the primaries held from March through May by 4.0% (47.2% to 51.2%).

* Among Males Obama’s lead declined precipitously, from a 12.1% advantage (BHO: 53.5%, HRC: 41.4%) to only a 3.5% advantage (BHO: 50.9%, HRC: 47.4%)
* Clinton increased her lead among Female voters, from 5.6% (HRC: 51.2%, BHO: 45.6%) to 10.0% (HRC: 54.3%, BHO: 44.3%)


* Obama’s lead among men as a percentage of the primary electorate declined by 3.7%, from 5.1% (BHO: 22.7%, HRC: 17.6%) to 1.4% (BHO: 21.6%, HRC: 20.2%)
* Clinton increased her lead among woman as a percentage of the electorate increased by 2.5%, from 3.3% (HRC: 29.4%, BHO: 26.1%) to 5.8% (HRC: 31.2%, BHO: 25.4%)


“Buyers Remorse” is also reflected in the changes in support among racial/ethnic demographic groups.

* Clinton increased her lead among White voters, from 10.2% (HRC: 52.6%, BHO: 42.4%) to 23.2% (HRC: 60.8%, BHO: 37.6%)
* Clinton increased her lead among Hispanic/Latino voters, from 28.2% (HRC: 63.4%, BHO: 35.2%) to 34.0% (HRC: 66.0%, BHO: 32.0%)
* The only major racial/ethnic category where Obama improved was among African American voters, where his lead increased, from a 67.8% (BHO: 83.0%, HRC: 15.2%) to 77.3% (BHO: 88.4%, HRC: 11.1%)


But while Obama’s numbers among African Americans may look impressive, his improvement as a percentage of the electorate is dwarfed by the gains made by Clinton among White and Hispanic/Latino voters.

* Obama’s percentage increase in the overall vote from African American voters was only 1.8% (from 12.7% in February in 14.5% in March through May)
* Clinton’s combined percentage increase in the overall vote from White and Hispanic/Latino voters was 9.1% (from a combined advantage of 10.1% to a combined advantage of 19.2%)

And it should be noted, when the numbers drawn from the demographics of the Democratic primaries are adjusted to reflect the overall electorate in the 2004 General Election, Clinton’s numbers are even more impressive (see below).


Perhaps the group that has shown the most “buyers remorse” is White Male Democrats, who not only rallied to Clinton after Obama was declared the “inevitable nominee”, but deserted Obama in droves. Not even the obvious misogyny of white male voters in Oregon (where Obama won the White Male vote by 2 to 1 (66% to 33%), while winning among White Women by a mere 2% (49% to 51%), could prevent Clinton from racking up major gains among White Male voters.

* In the February primaries, Obama enjoyed a 4.6% lead among White male voters (BHO: 44.9%, HRC: 44.6%). But White male voter attitudes switched completely, giving Clinton a 12.9% lead (HRC: 55.4%, BHO: 42.5%) in the March through May primaries.
* Clinton improved her already substantial lead among White female voters from 21.2% (HRC: 58.6%, BHO: 37.4%) in February to 30.8% (HRC: 64.6%, BHO: 33.9%) in May through March.
* Obama improved his already massive lead among both Black males (+2.0%), and especially among Black females (+5.9%)


But in terms of actual impact on the results, Obama’s gains among Black men and women were negligible compared to Clinton’s gains among White males and females.

Obama’s gains among Black males represented just 0.1% (to 6.7% overall) of the Democratic primary electorate, while his gains among Black females represented a gain of 0.6% (to 9.6% overall) of Democratic voters.

Clinton’s gains among White male voters represented 4.9% of the electorate, as she went from negative 1.3% in February (HRC: 12.5%, BHO: 13.8%) to a lead of 3.6% of the electorate. (HRC: 15.6%, BHO: 11.9%)

Clinton’s lead among White female voters in the March-May primaries represented 11.4% of the Democratic electorate overall (HRC: 23.9%, BHO: 12.5%)


When weighing the data about to reflect the percentage of the electorate voting for each candidate in each demographic category, the sum of all the primaries in which Obama and Clinton went head-to head (i.e. those held from February to May) was used. But that demographic distribution is not similar to that of the General Election in 2004, and it would doubtless be helpful to see how Clinton and Obama would do if the data were adjusted to reflect a General Election distribution.

Unfortunately, there is inadequate exit polling data to account for all the racial/ethnic demographic groups. But the demographic differences among the three larges groups (which comprise 97.6% of the primary electorate, and 96% of the general electorate) are significant. While the primary electorate was 69.4% White, 18.5% African American, and 9.5% Hispanic/Latino, the electorate in the 2004 General Election was 77% White, 11% African American, and 8% Hispanic/Latino.


If the Democratic Primary electorate were the same as that of the 2004 General Election, Clinton’s lead over Obama for the primaries held from March through May would more than double, going from 4.8% (HRC: 49.6%, BHO: 44.8%) to 12.1%. This is mainly due to the under-representation of White voters, and the over-representation of African American voters, in the Democratic Primary electorate.

Given the level of “buyers remorse” demonstrated by Democratic voters, this adjusted data should serve as a major warning to super-delegates who are considering which candidate to support for the Democratic nomination.

Part Two of “Buyers Remorse” will examine the “class” Demographics: Income and Education.


All states in which exit polling is available and in which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the only two “major” candidates are included in the data for this survey. (In essence, all primary states from Super Tuesday onward.)

Exit polling data was taken from the CBS News website at

Vote totals were taken from official state websites where available, and when those were not available, totals were based on publicly available news sources. A full list of states and the websites from which the data was gotten can be found at

To determine overall percentages, each states exit polling percentages were multiplied by the total number of votes in that state within each category, then those votes were distributed to Clinton and Obama based on the percentages found in the exit polls. (Total votes included only ballots that were counted as having valid votes.) After each candidates vote total was determined for each category in each state, each category, and the candidate’s vote in each category, was summed, and a percentage of the total vote for each candidate in each category was derived from those numbers.

Weighed averages were determined by multiplying the percentage for each candidate in a given category by the percentage that category comprised of the overall vote total. (i.e. if category X comprised 40% of the total vote, and Clinton received 60% of the vote in category X, Clinton’s Category support from Category X comprised 24% (60% time 40%) of the electorate.)

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