Ethan Porter has an interesting piece on “Why the Jews finally came home to Obama.”
When thinking about this kind of issue, though, it’s worth recalling that what normally happens in elections is that people vote the way they normally vote. Nobody’s surprised to see Barack Obama getting a huge share of the black vote, and Bill Clinton was always wildly popular in the African-American community, but of course black voters also overwhelmingly pulled the lever for John Kerry. But at one point in the spring and summer of 2004, it was thought that Kerry might have trouble motivating black voters for various reasons. That’s not to say that the worrying was useless or unnecessary, but it is to say that research shows that the main thing that campaigns do is “remind” partisans of the reasons that they’re partisans and bring them around to voting for the party that they always vote for. Thus, when we started this general election cycle there were certain traditional Democratic demographic groups (Jews, Hispanics) that seemed skeptical of Obama, while McCain was a widely popular “maverick” views skeptically by conservatives. But over the course of the campaign, Jews and Hispanics came to like Obama, conservatives came to like McCain, and both candidates saw their cross-partisan appeal fade. Campaigns are important because if you didn’t actually do the campaigning this stuff might not happen and then you’d be in a world of pain. But it shouldn’t come as shocking to anyone that a presidential campaign was able to bring its party’s traditional voters along.