President Barack Obama won re-election with a similar coalition that carried him to the presidency in 2008: women, young voters, African Americans and Latinos.
But the popular vote was not as strongly in Barack Obama’s favor this time, owing to declines in some key but shrinking parts of the electorate.
1. The female vote
Men and women split between the candidates: overall, 55% of women voted for Barack Obama, 44% for Mitt Romney. For men, 52% voted for Mitt Romney and 45% for Barack Obama.
In 2008, Barack Obama gained a higher percentage of the male vote (49%) and a similar percentage of the female vote (56%).
However, there was a division between married and unmarried women: 53% of married women voted for the Republican candidate, while Barack Obama won unmarried women two-to-one: 67% to 31%.
Overall, women make up more of the electorate – 53% – slightly more than their share of the US population.
2. The ethnic vote
Barack Obama overwhelmingly won the black vote with 93%, a sliver lower than four years ago. Latinos also voted strongly for the Democrat – 71% in total and probably made electoral differences in Colorado and Nevada. Latinos or Hispanics made up 10% of total voters in the US, up one percentage point from 2008.
President Obama lost some of the white voters that propelled him to a strong win in 2008, with 39% voting for a second Barack Obama term in comparison to 43% in 2008. The white electorate, while still a majority, dropped to 72% of the country as a whole, down from 74% four years ago, and 77% eight years ago.
3. The youth vote
Young voters were a key part of Barack Obama’s victory for a second time.
Sixty per cent of voters aged 18 to 29 years voted for Barack Obama, slightly down from his percentage four years ago of 66%.
But the percentage of voters in this age range increased slightly, to 19% of the electorate.
Voters aged 30 to 44 were fairly split, with a slight inclination to Barack Obama, 52% to 45%.
The largest percentage of the electorate in terms of age, 45 to 64, went to Mitt Romney with 51%.
President Barack Obama won re-election with a similar coalition that carried him to the presidency in 2008: women, young voters, African Americans and Latinos
4. Lower-income Americans
Lower-income voters went decisively for Barack Obama.
Of those making under $50,000, 60% voted for Barack Obama.
The president did not do badly with middle-income and richer voters either, gaining 46% and 44%, respectively in each category.
The three income categories are fairly split among the electorate, with the lower-income group representing 41% of the total vote.
5. The religious vote
Mitt Romney gained 62% of the Protestant vote.
Catholics and other Christians were split among the two major candidates.
Those of no religion as well as Jewish voters gave Barack Obama a vote of confidence at 70%.
Mitt Romney, who would have become the first Mormon president if he had won, also gained the large majority of Mormon voters: 78%.
Those who went to religious services at least once a week were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney (59%).
However, 55% of those who said they attended such services “a few times a month” voted for Barack Obama.
6. The economy
Throughout the campaign, both candidates said it was all about the economy, and voters’ decisions largely came down to who they thought was best on the issue.
Fifty-nine per cent of those polled said the economy was their foremost concern. Among those, a slight majority (51%) went for Mitt Romney. So how does this match with an Obama win? Fifty-four per cent of voters who named unemployment as their top economic concern voted for Barack Obama.
The president also received many more votes from those concerned about healthcare and foreign policy, while deficit-minded voters strongly chose Mitt Romney.
7. Mitt Romney’s empathy gap
What matters most in Americans’ minds when they vote? About three in 10 wanted a “vision for the future” and another three in 10 wanted a president who shared their values.
Those who wanted a vision for the future voted more for Mitt Romney (54% to 45% for Barack Obama).
However, another two in 10 voters wanted a president who “cares about people like me”.
They overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama – 81% in total – a sign that Mitt Romney suffered an empathy gap among some voters.
All numbers based on exit polling conducted by Edison Research across the United States on 6 November.
Barack Obama made a new attempt on Friday to shore up the youth vote with a live interview on MTV.
President Barack Obama sat down at the White House with anchor Sway Calloway and delivered a careful pitch based around youth-friendly topics such as climate change, college tuition and gay marriage.
He also opened up about his personal life, revealing that he has banned his daughter from using Facebook for security reasons, and talking about his anguish at seeing his friends’ family members die in gun violence in Chicago.
The questions for the half-hour interview were sent in by young MTV viewers, and focused around issues which concern college students and the under-30s.
Barack Obama is likely to attract the support of a large majority of young people, but nonetheless faces a fierce battle to boost turnout among the group, who traditionally vote in relatively low numbers.
He was in his element during the MTV interview on Friday afternoon, with many of the questions centring on common Democratic talking points such as global warming and women’s equality.
The first question, predictably, was about youth unemployment, and prompted the President to defend his economic record, arguing: “We’ve made real progress since I came into office… but we’ve got to do a lot more.”
When asked how he would help entrepreneurs, Barack Obama claimed his administration was “making it easier for entrepreneurs to raise money through the internet” by seeking crowd-funding from a number of small investors.
Barack Obama made a new attempt on Friday to shore up the youth vote with a live interview on MTV
However, Barack Obama refused to contemplating forgiving the student debt of graduates who start their own business, saying it would be better to “make sure that folks don’t get loaded up on debt in the first place”.
Sway Calloway pointed out that the majority of young people now support same-sex marriage, and pressed the President to make a greater commitment to “ensure that all Americans have equal rights in the eyes of the federal government”.
However, Barack Obama – while describing gays as “outstanding people” – reiterated that “historically marriages have been defined at the state level”, and suggested he would not push for federal legislation to legalize gay marriage nationally.
But he insisted: “The evolution in this country will get us to a place where we will be treating everyone fairly,” and argued that future generations’ support of gay marriage would change the political landscape.
When the conversation turned to the “silent epidemic” of gun violence in America’s cities, the President spoke of his personal grief at the murders which have blighted his native Chicago.
“These shootings are taking place a few blocks away from my home, and I have friends whose family members have been killed,” he said.
Barack Obama also talked about climate change, an issue which did not come in the presidential debates, saying: “We’re not moving as fast as we need to, and this is a problem which future generations will have to be dealing with.”
The President addressed his hopes and fears for his daughters, Malia and Sasha, as he said: “They’re growing up pretty quick, and when they’re out of the house I want to make sure they have the same opportunities as anyone’s sons.”
He revealed that Malia found it difficult to balance the stresses of adolescence with life in the public eye, saying: “Because she’s well-known I’m very keen about her protecting her privacy.”
Barack Obama said that she was not allowed to use Facebook for security reasons, but joked that he was not worried about the prospect of her dating – “because she’s got Secret Service protection”.
A more cultural moment came towards the end of the interview, when Sway Calloway asked whether Barack Obama was concerned about the decline in political music.
The President reminisced about his youthful love of Bob Marley: “I can remember when i was in college listening – and not necessarily agreeing with everything, but thinking about how people outside our country were thinking about the struggle for jobs and dignity and freedom.”
Among modern bands, he praised the Roots, a hip-hop group who are “doing some really good stuff”.
MTV has invited Mitt Romney to participate in a similar event, and the network says it hopes to feature the Republican candidate at some point before Election Day.
Barack Obama’s campaign is out with an eyebrow-raising new ad targeting young voters in which Lena Dunham, the creator of the HBO hit series Girls, compares her first voting experience to losing her virginity.
“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody,” Lena Dunham, 26, says in the ad.
“You want to do it with a great guy.”
Lena Dunham goes on to explain that “your first time” should be with “someone who really cares about and understands women: “A guy who cares whether you get health insurance and specifically whether you get birth control.”
“The consequences are huge,” she continues.
Lena Dunham wraps up the Obama ad by describing her coming-of-age experience at the voting booth.
“It was this line in the sand,” she says.
“Before, I was a girl. Now, I was a woman. I went to the polling station, I pulled back the curtain, I voted for Barack Obama.”
A link to Barack Obama’s campaign website at the bottom of the web ad reads: “Your first time? Get started here.”
Lena Dunham compares her first voting experience to losing her virginity
Lena Dunham has amassed a cult following among 20-somethings as the creator and starring actress in the HBO hit series, Girls. She has been widely dubbed the “voice of a generation” for her show’s hilarious representation of life as a middle-to-upper-class millennial living in New York City.
The young star is one of many celebrities that the Obama campaign is calling on to try and reach and inspire young people, whose record-breaking turnout on Election Day four years ago was critical to Obama’s victory in 2008. Barack Obama needs similar turnout among young people on Election Day this year to win re-election.
Lena Dunham’s tongue-in-cheek references to losing her virginity are not lost on Republicans, many of whom say they are outraged by the ad and call it “disgusting”.
“Talk about desperation,” a conservative blogger wrote on The Right Scoop.
“They’ve finally sunken to a new low trying to get the youth vote by comparing voting for the first time to having sex for the first time.”
RedState editor-in-chief and CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote: “If you need any further proof we live in a fallen world destined for hell fire, consider the number of people who have no problem with the President of the United States, via a campaign ad, ridiculing virgins and comparing sex to voting.”
He said the only honest part of the ad is that Barack Obama’s 2008 supporters “have been screwed – economically”.
Fox News analyst and conservative author Monica Crowley called the ad “sick” and “degrading” on Twitter.
“Of the many sick things about this degrading Lena Dunham <<lose your virginity to Barack>> ad? The left thinks it’s <<empowering>> to women,” she wrote.
Conservative blogger John Nolte of Breitbart News added: “How could a president with two young, blossoming daughters release an ad as disgusting as this?”