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Brownstein: A Party Transformed

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Before going back into the deep weeds of Ohio and Texas, I want to pass along a link to the long article by my National Journal colleague Ron Brownstein. He did an extensive dive into the primary exit polls to paint a picture of the "new Democratic coalition" being forged by race for the Democratic nomination:

From New Hampshire to California, and from Arizona to Wisconsin, exit polls from this year's contests show the Democratic coalition evolving in clear and consistent ways since the 2004 primaries that nominated John Kerry. The party is growing younger, more affluent, more liberal, and more heavily tilted toward women, Latinos, and African-Americans.

In the 18 states for which exit polls are available from both 2004 and 2008, the share of the Democratic vote cast by young people has risen, often by substantial margins. Voters earning at least $100,000 annually have also increased their representation in every state for which comparisons are available -- again, usually by big margins. Women's share of the vote has grown in 17 of the 18 states (although generally by smaller increments). In 12 of the states, Latinos have cast a larger percentage of votes, as have the voters who consider themselves liberals. African-Americans have boosted their share in 11 of the 18 states.

This story is well worth the click.

Brownstein's thesis gets at one challenge of primary polling this season that my discussions of the demographics of Texas and Ohio only hinted at. The challenge is about more than getting race, ethnicity, gender and age right. Polls have also had to cope with a surge in better educated, higher income voters in Democratic primaries. Click on the link in Brownstein's story labeled "A Shifting Landscape" (in the right column, just below the cover image) and notice the large and consistent increase in $100K+ voters.

One thing that surprised me a bit is how many Texas and Ohio pollsters fail to include any measure of the education or income level in their surveys. How can you diagnose how well your sample represents the primary electorate if you have no measure of socio-economic status?