President Obama needs the help of minority voters to succeed in his reelection bid. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama won 80% of the votes from all minority groups. That included not just African Americans, but Asians, Hispanics and others. If that performance is matched again in this November’s election, then Obama will win a majority with just earning 40% of the vote from whites. This is as long as the minority vote totals a minimum of 26% of the votes, as it did in 2008.
On the other hand, Romney’s campaign is focusing on capturing over 61% of the white vote, which would give him a slim majority nationally, as long as the white vote is 74% of the overall vote, as it was in the 2008 election and the 80% mark of minorities supporting Obama is not increased.
The formulas to figure out the voting for the election underscore just how deep racial polarization has become in the election. It also underscores how slim the margins are for error amongst the two candidates. If Obama is able to pass the 80% mark amongst the minority voters or the share of vote by minorities increases, the president might gain reelection to the presidency with only 38% of the white voters supporting him.
On the other side of the equation, if the proportion of white voters increases by just a single percentage point, and Romney can gain among minority voters, he could lower his need of 61% of the white vote down to just a more reasonable 59%.
The equation is more difficult for the Romney camp, because if he does get 61% of the white vote, he would equal the best ever performance by a presidential challenger from the Republican Party. That was Dwight Eisenhower in the election of 1952, as well as Ronald Reagan in the 1990 election and George Bush in the 1988 election.