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‘Emptying Nest’ Demographic Leans Obama Says New Study

In the final countdown to the 2012 presidential election, a new analysis by American University and Patchwork Nation suggests that a popular/electoral vote split is a very real possibility, says American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies Fellow Dante Chinni. And aging Midwestern counties give the president an edge in the race to 270 electoral votes, Chinni says.

The findings come from an examination of the latest Pew Research Center presidential poll using the Patchwork Nation demographic/geographic breakdown of U.S. counties. Chinni is also director of the Patchwork Nation.

That analysis shows:

• President Obama leads Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 11 percentage points in the aging “Emptying Nest” counties nationally.

• The Emptying Nests may be crucial because they hold large portions of the population in key swing states like Ohio (11%), Wisconsin (20%) and Iowa (32%).

• The wealthy, suburban “Monied Burbs” counties, which are always crucial, are extremely close, with Obama leading by one percentage point.


The numbers are significant, because the American University/Patchwork Nation breakdown of the Pew numbers shows that in other key county types the 2012 split between Obama and Romney looks quite similar to the results from the 2004 presidential race. With that being the case, the Emptying Nests could be the difference particularly because of their location in key swing states.



County Type



Kerry 04



Bush 04



Obama 12



Romney 12



04/12 Margin Difference



Boom Towns



41



58



41



55



+3 D



Campus Careers



55



44



53



41



+1 D



Emptying Nests



43



56



52



41



+24 D



Evang. Epicenters



34



65



30



68



+7 R



Immigration Nat.



45



54



43



44



+8 D



Industrial Metro



63



36



64



32



+5 D



Military Bastions



43



56



42



51



+4 D



Minority Central



48



51



45



47



+1 R



Monied Burbs



50



49



47



46



0



Mormon Outposts



18



80



NA



NA



NA



Service Workers



43



55



42



53



+1D



Tractor Country



68



30



NA



NA



NA


NA=Sample too small to report



The overall data suggest the national popular vote is very close and could easily go to either candidate. The national results in the Pew poll, a survey of nearly 1,500 likely voters conducted from October 24 – 28, showed a 47% - 47% tie between the two men.

Read the full AU-Patchwork Nation analysis of the Pew Poll.