Editor’s note: The author of this article, noted industry analyst Ken Doctor, will be one of the featured speakers at the 2013 Ohio Newspaper Association convention, Feb. 13-14 in Columbus. Check out our next edition of The Bulletin for more details on the 2013 convention.
By Ken Doctor, Nieman Journalism Lab
The pictures told much of the story. As the networks beamed in live coverage of Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s gatherings on election nights, their anchors made similar observations — some gingerly, some more prominently.
The Romney crowd was overwhelmingly white and older. The Obama crowd was mixed in color and younger in age.
The presidential vote bore out the videography. The numbers picked off the assembly line of news stories have been astoundingly, and properly, reflective of the new state of America (all data via CNN):
- Among women: +11 Obama, 55-44.
- Among men: +7 Romney, 52-45.
- Among Latinos: +44 Obama, 71-27.
- Among Asian-Americans: +47 Obama, 73-26.
- Among whites: +20 Romney, 59-39.
- Among 18-24 year-olds: +24 Obama, 60-36.
- Among 25-29 year-olds: +22 Obama, 60-38.
- Among 30-39 year-olds: +13 Obama, 55-42.
- Among 40-49 year-olds: +2 Romney, 50-48.
- Among 50-64 year-olds: +5 Romney, 52-47.
- Among 65 and older: +12 Romney, 56-44.
Here’s the kicker: Of all votes cast for Romney, 88 percent came from white voters. Yet the white vote declined to 72 percent of the total vote, down two points in four years and 11 points in 20 years.
A Politico headline: “GOP soul-searching: ‘Too old, too white, too male?’”
Around noon Wednesday, I started hearing a voice inside my election-addled head: Where else had I seen numbers like these? Where had I heard that Politico description? Who else was getting a really good market share of a smaller and smaller slice of the population?
Ah, yes: the newspaper industry.