The two main parties in the US, the Republicans and the Democrats, both consist of coalitions, or groups of people who vote consistently in that party line. This particular election shows yet another shift in the coalition trends.

A coalition is likely to be a majority of a particular demographic who associate together. In this case, under one of the two parties.


Slavery and/or segregation are the cause of the first coalition lines between parties. The south was Democrat, and the north was Republican, as a direct result of pro-slavery south and anti-slavery north. What caused the change is debatable. 1948 civil rights movements by the Democratic party could have been the initial change. In 1960 southern white Protestant votes for the president went Republican for the first time. By the 1980s there was a striking clear swap, the south was now Republican, with a huge percentage of minorities associating with the opposing Democrat party.
    Democrat Coalition
  • Race minorities, African Americans/Asians/etc.
  • Other minorities, Gays/Lesbians/Marginalized groups
  • Women
  • Urban
  • Youth
    Republican Coalition
  • Caucasian
  • Middle class
  • Men
  • Rural
  • Religious (if you go to church weekly, you're likely voting Republican)

2008 Election

Ninety percent of McCain's supporters were white, according to exit polls. Obama attracted a significantly more diverse coalition: 61 percent white, 23 percent black. Palin helped get the small town vote for the Republican ticket. "Obama had a far broader generational coalition as well -- nearly a quarter of his voters were under 30, compared with 13 percent of McCain's. Obama beat McCain by better than 2 to 1 with them, far exceeding Bill Clinton's 19-point win in 1996. Obama won whites under 30 by 10 points, the first time a Democrat has picked up a majority of these voters going back to 1972." (Washington Post)

    Obama won
  • 56% to 43% women vote
  • African American 95%, Hispanic 67%, Asian 62%
  • 66% Youth vote
    McCain won
  • 60+ age 51%
  • Protestants 54%
  • 53% small town/Rural
  • 55% white vote

Trends and changes

Whether or not coalitions had anything to do with increased voter turnout, 2008 was a record setter. 66,882,230 people voted for Obama, and 58,343,671 people voted for McCain, making this election the highest percentage turn out ever. Voter turnout was 64%, with numbers 8 million higher than the 2004 election.

The changes in the coalitions are as follows. First, the south was heading back to the Republicans in the past 20 years, but this election sparked a revitalization for Democrat trends. The obvious reason is the strong showing Obama had for non-white races. Second, the under 30 vote, with a strong 2:1 Obama showing. Third, an over all shrinking of the Republican coalition. They are increasingly only white, middle class, less educated, religious, and from rural areas. (In some cases, all of those) The Democrats coalition is increasingly becoming diversified, with no demographic preferably the coalition majority. This is possibly why Democrat rights movements are appealing, because it pulls in the minority votes. Additionally, the Republican coalition seems to be alienating the educated vote more and more.

Suburban and Rural voting

"Suburban voters want a 'family agenda, which is not abortion and gay marriage but drug-free schools and good public education," he said. 'Tax cuts and gay marriage and Iraq don't sell as strongly in suburban areas -- it's education and health care and the economy.'" "Some Republicans offer a similar diagnosis. 'It is a problem for Republicans. As they continue to cater to their culturally conservative rural base, they continue to alienate educated voters,' said Rep. Tom Davis, who is retiring and whose Fairfax County district was taken over by the Democrats on Tuesday. 'The suburban vote is steadily slipping away, and the party's trying to ignore it and pretend it's not happening.'" (Washington Post)

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