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Buyers' Remorse: How Rank & File Democrats Rejected Obama Once He Was Declared The "Inevitable" Nominee

[Welcome Political Radar readers. This Memorial Day Weekend, try a round of Obama Golf! --lambert]


Ever since the media declared that Barack Obama was “inevitable” after February 19th, based on a two week period when 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's 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%.


TABLE 1 (data for Charts 1A & 1B)

 	       CLINTON	OBAMA  Weighed  Unweighed 
all	         +4.5%	-2.3%	 	+6.7%
Male 	         +6.0%	-2.6%	+3.7%	+8.6%
Female 	         +3.1%	-1.2%	+2.5%	+4.3%
White men 	+10.8%	-6.7%	+4.9%	+17.5%
White women 	 +6.0%	-3.6%	+3.5%	+9.6%
Black men 	 -1.4%	+2.0%	-0.3%	-3.4%
Black women 	 -5.1%	+6.1%	-1.2%	-11.2%
White 	         +8.2%	-4.8%	+8.4%	+12.9%
Black 	         -4.1%	+5.4%	-1.8%	-9.6%
Hispanic/Latino  +2.6%	-3.2%	+0.7%	+5.8%

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 only increased in 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%)

TABLE 2 (Data for Chart 2)

 	      Clinton  Obama   Clinton 	Obama
ALL: February	 	 	46.8%	49.5%
ALL: Mar-May	 	 	51.2%	47.2%
MALE: February	17.6%	22.7%	41.4%	53.5%
MALE: Mar-May	20.2%	21.6%	47.4%	50.9%
FEMALE: Feb.	29.4%	26.1%	51.2%	45.6%
FEMALE: Mar-May	31.2%	25.4%	54.3%	44.3%


“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).

TABLE 3 (Data for Chart 3)

 	                   WEIGHED	  UNWEIGHED
 	              Clinton   Obama  Clinton 	Obama
WHITE: February	        34.2%	27.6%	52.6%	42.4%
WHITE: March to May	39.5%	24.5%	60.8%	37.6%
BLACK: February	         2.8%	15.5%	15.2%	83.0%
BLACK: March to May	 2.1%	16.5%	11.1%	88.4%
HISPANIC: February	 7.6%	4.2%	63.4%	35.2%
HISPANIC: March to May	 8.0%	3.9%	66.0%	32.0%


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%)

TABLE 4 (Data for Chart 4)

 	                   WEIGHED	  UNWEIGHED
 	              Clinton 	Obama  Clinton   Obama
WHITE MALES: February	12.5%	13.8%	44.6%	49.2%
WHITE MALES: Mar-May	15.6%	11.9%	55.4%	42.5%
WHITE FEMALES: February	21.6%	13.8%	58.6%	37.4%
WHITE FEMALES: Mar-May	23.9%	12.5%	64.6%	33.9%
BLACK MALES: February	0.9%	6.6%	11.6%	87.3%
BLACK MALES: Mar-May	0.8%	6.7%	10.2%	89.3%
BLACK FEMALES: February	1.9%	9.0%	16.9%	81.2%
BLACK FEMALES: Mar-May	1.3%	9.6%	11.7%	87.3%


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.


TABLE 5 (Data for Chart 5)

	                      CLINTON	OBAMA
WHITE March - May Primaries	39.5%	24.5%
WHITE General Election adjusted	46.8%	29.0%
BLACK March - May Primaries	 2.1%	16.5%
BLACK General Election adjusted	 1.2%	 9.7%
HISPANIC March - May Primaries	 8.0%	 3.9%
HISPANIC Gen. Election adjusted	 5.3%	 2.6%
TOTAL March - May Primaries	49.6%	44.8%
TOTAL General Election adjusted	53.3%	41.2%

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 state's exit polling percentages were multiplied by the total number of votes in that state within each category, and 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 candidate's 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.)

No votes yet


Nervine5's picture
Submitted by Nervine5 on

You have overcome the babalists (apparently an 'ist' that is not in the dictionary, maybe I made that up. But, you know what I reference.) Anyway, I have given to the most qualified candidate despite the MSM's delusions.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Paul, I'm reading this for the 2nd time already (I'm not good with statistics)

But since it will be hours before I really understand the impact of everything you've put together I wanted to jump in and thank you.

This is amazing. And your organization, headings and graphs make it (just about) accessible - understandable even to (eventually) me.

This information should be spread far and wide.

Seriously, Thank you.

(back to work....)

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Good to have this all here in one place, and extra thanks for the explanatory text. It is a stunning rejection, isn't it?

Submitted by lambert on

... is the term of art, I believe.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

The general election demographic breakdown is key, i think-- because white voters are by far the largest group--and women are the majority in terms of gender--the candidate must be able to show that they can attract enough of them--and retain them--until November's voting thru all the coming GOP attacks.

i think this is very relevant too--Wilentz:

Insulting and dismissing those who don't support you, and didn't vote for you, is a terrible start, i think.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

This is just the first part -- wait until you get a look at how Obama is doing in his "key" demographics.... Clinton outperformed Obama in every educational demographic except those without a HS diploma (and he lost support among those with just a diploma, those with post-graduate degrees, and those with some college/assoc. degrees).

In terms of income, the only group that Obama did well with was those making under 15K a year-- and he dropped a bunch of support in all the categories for 50K and above.

That's part 2... part 3 will be on religion and community size! ;)

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

and a pleasure to read.

one very tiny comment about presentation of the data. my brain played tricks on me when i first read your top chart. i spent time thinking there was an error in labeling

before i realized that the clinton blue square was above the column displaying the obama red bar charts;

and the obama red had been placed over the column containing the the clinton blue bar charts.

any way to reverse that labeling?

thanks for taking the time, and i imagine it was a lot of time, to but this data display together.

it is very revealing.

i would bet even more so if limited to the swing states data.

hope some super delegates read this.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

for the methodology footnote, especially the part on weighting.

that's important for credibility and to allow others to check if they chose.

unlike say, a number josh marshall's tpm linked to a few days ago

where a journalist (it may have been jon alter) wrote that obama was ahead of clinton by 400k votes in the popular vote

and i was scratching my head and saying where in hell did this number come

when shows nothing even remotely close?

where DID this guy get his numbers?

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

any way to reverse that labeling?

probably, but I'm working in excel, and getting the charts to be this comprehensible has been a real chore! ;(

The way I remember it is to keep in mind that Clinton kicks ass in BLUE states, while Obama doesn't seem to win much more than RED states.

tnjen's picture
Submitted by tnjen on

Kerry ended up with 41% of the white vote in 2004 and we all know how that turned out. With Obama projecting only 29% of white voters, so many Clinton voters promising to vote McCain or not vote, the unreliable "youth vote" and his dependence on super turnout from it, and the fact that he's yet to face a real attack, I think he's in even deeper trouble than the current numbers can show us.

CognitiveDissonance's picture
Submitted by CognitiveDissonance on

The talking heads and Oborg keep telling us that Obama is ahead by all the metrics. And yet, the only thing I see that he's ahead in is delegates (and since he won't have enough to cross the magic line, who cares?) Your work is consistently showing that Obama is not passing any of the important tests. In fact, he does worse over time, not better. Contrary to his silly meme, people DON'T like him the more they get to know him. Then we have all the electoral charts. What more do these SD's need?

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

I'll have some interesting numbers concerning the Nebraska caucus/primary in a few days if you'd like to crunch them.

I don't know that I would have the time or the expertise to do the work on these things.

But they should be very interesting.


Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

phat... I think I have the popular vote and caucus results by county somewhere...

that's one of the projects I keep promising myself I'll get to -- using Texas, Washington State, and Nebraska to show the broad disparity between actual voter sentiment, and caucus results.

But keep me posted -- especially if the data concerns the districts by which delegates were selected.

(it will probably take me a couple of weeks to get to it though...once I'm done "buyers remorse", I'm going to look at the impact of misogyny on the primary results -- big shock coming... Obama wins when there is a much bigger difference between the male vote than there is in the female vote. I've got the data ready, I just have to figure out how to explain it)

Bluegrass Poet's picture
Submitted by Bluegrass Poet on

I really enjoy following your work here and at TalkLeft.

SunnyLC's picture
Submitted by SunnyLC on

...Memorial Day

Latest news…Obama trying to make nice with veterans here in Las Cruces…

“Yup! Obama Doing an “Invitation-Only” Event for Vets on Memorial Day…and Richardson Will Appear…”

As I predicted, making the day political, trying to make up for his DUMB and INSENSITIVE comment comparing the Bataan Death March to the primary season…

And Bill Richardson is handling it all..

SO obvious…frankly, pretty dicey if the kids crash this thing…so much CLASSIER than Hillary’s (innocuous) RFK reference…by the way, did anyone ever report on Obama’s crappy comment about the Bataan Death March being like the primaries??

Submitted by lambert on

I think it was in, oh, 2004. And then.... Back in the days before Josh Marshall hadn't been kidnapped, in the Social Security bamboozlepalooza....

But who was it? I know it'll come to me....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

And I understand that it's a bad reference. As hard as campaigning is, it is nowhere near as hard as, you know, actually being at war.

Compare that to RFK-gate. People could have been all over it "He's disrespecting the troops!!" "He thinks he works harder than our troops in Iraq!"

Oh they could have gone to town with it, but instead we get the Clinton/Obama rules.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

"votes" don't matter. the 'will of the voters' doesn't matter. polls don't matter, unless they are statistically unsound and conducted by biased or motivated groups looking for a specific result. "rules" don't matter. "democracy" doesn't matter. the SCLM and those supporters of obama who aren't too critical, have told you over and over and over what matters. the will of ~700 people, and the degree to which HRC or BHO can promise them rewards for their support at the convention.

it's very clear the SCLM wants obama. so too do a lot of 'real' democrats. some of them have good reasons, some of them confused reasons, some meanspirited and sexist reasons. in the end, if the situation were reversed and these numbers supported the assertion that obama is the popular choice and clinton were only ahead in terms of delagates, it would still be the same.

we learned this here in MI, and we continue to learn it as we observe what the Village higherups and state local party officials negotiate, in order to promote the illusion that 'democracy' happened/will happen here. but i'm not fooled. the sad, plain truth is that ~700 people will choose who runs against mcstain in the fall. for all our sakes, i hope they choose someone who can beat that old shame of a man.

paul: thank you for your excellent work. you really show how the blogosphere can be powerful and useful. i'm so sorry that in this case, none of it will make any difference. but as far as being a Resistance Historian, you're a shining example of the high quality work that is no longer found anywhere in the SCLM or much of the blogosphere today. great job.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

but as far as being a Resistance Historian,

from now on, I'm describing myself as a "Resistance Historian", rather than "just some guy from Philadelphia"! Thanks CD! ;-)

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

please, adopt as yours true. if nothing else, that's what we can do. b/c future gens will want to know, and hopefully, all this intertubular crap will be available to them then. welcome to the lonely, hated, club.

jackyt's picture
Submitted by jackyt on

The visuals make it stick in a way words can't for me. Thanks so much!

I've lost track of what the Pledged Delegate totals are now. I'm not interested in the number that includes the Supers since they don't count till they count. So it's just the first ballot pledge numbers I'd like to know. Can you tell me?

Thanks if you can, still a fan if you don't.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Real Clear politics has the pledged delegate count at 1658 for Obama and 1500 for Clinton.