Most early analysis noted that Romney received around the same percentage of the caucus vote and number of votes as he did four years ago.
During the punditry last night, some even suggested that Romney attracted the same voters except those that died in the interim.
Polling results further suggested that the Republican electorate was very similar to four years ago and that Romney did about the same in the major demographic groups as he did in 2008 (see here and here for examples).
Entrance polls are only one way to slice the results, however. Another is to look at the geography of the contest. A comparison of the county results shows that counties that backed Romney in 2008 did so again in 2012, but the results from the two contests are correlated at only 0.69—positive but relatively low for aggregate data like this.
More puzzling: At the county level, Romney received only 55 percent of the vote percentages in ‘12 that he did in ‘08.
How, then, did he end up with the same statewide vote? The answer is that Romney’s support came much more from the more populous counties in the state than it did four years ago. Some smaller, rural counties dropped in their support for him, but he made it up by losing little or gaining in the more populous counties. For example, Romney improved in Des Moines, Iowa City, Ames, and Iowa City.
The Pizza Ranch in Altoona, Iowa sits amidst a long series of strip malls. At 5 pm on Caucus Eve, and hour before Santorum appears, Carl Cameron is the first person you encounter inside—deeply tanned with pancake make-up, talking seriously into his microphone. The second is a man selling Santorum buttons. 3 for $10.
I am here in Iowa with Lynn Vavreck. I’ll have more to report on our minor adventures later. But before the caucus takes place, it’s important to address a perennial concern: the unrepresentativeness of people who attend the caucus. This is a familiar refrain that typically involves claims about the high costs the caucus imposes on voters, the resulting low turnout, the domination by activists, etc.
Soon after Pearl Harbor, acting under political pressure and without time to design and pre-test a survey, interviewers from the Agriculture Department’s Program Surveys spoke to people in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and California’s Imperial Valley. These “preliminary impressions” found a range of views toward Japanese-Americans, with more negative opinions in rural areas, among Filipinos and people who worked with them “or in competition with them.” While distinguishing between particular individuals and the group, there was “a feeling that all should be watched, until we know which are disloyal, but a tendency to feel that most are loyal – if we could be sure which.”
These findings, including political and economic considerations, were presented to high-level government officials and were part of the discussions underlying the deportations. In a late January 1943 meeting where the data were discussed, Secretary of Agriculture Wickard “emphasized the political aspects of the situation reflected in the attitude of the state officials, the abuse of the licensing power, and the acuteness of the problem in the rural areas especially as the planting season approached…”
…Once the decision was made to proceed with the relocation, public opinion studies tracked overall public opinion and views in the areas where relocation was taking place and evaluated messages about the relocation, targeted at individuals within and outside of the country.