...we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population growth....That is certainly possible. I know Ohio was blanketed with vicious, negative ads all summer and fall. We all saw them once or twice online, but Ohio voters must have seen them day and night for months on end. The Republican primary may have had some effect as well.
Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years.
My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well.
My re-enactment group that we camped out with at the Highland Games includes a lot of rural, blue-collar whites. We had a political discussion one of the nights, and I got the sense that most of them weren't going to vote.
It wasn't because they were satisfied with their government. It was because they believed that Obama was evil, but the Republicans were corrupt, and the system was wholly rigged against them. They saw no benefit to voting or engaging in the political process at all.
They didn't believe things could be changed for the better, saw no one they identified with for whom they could vote, and generally have come to regard the government as a pack of thieves -- both parties.
So they have checked out of our political system. They wanted all the way out, but as close as they can get is to shut down the TV and radio, handle their business cash-only or on the internet, and just try not to be part of it all anymore.