Gallup Predicts Voter Turnout Will Remain Unchanged In 2012 Election

Democrats insist Latino vote will be higher than ever, but Gallup says number won't budge.

Aida Castillo places a sticker on her blouse indicating that she had voted during the early voting period, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Las Vegas.
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Democratic strategists are grimacing at a recent Gallup poll out Friday showing the make up of the electorate remains virtually unchanged since the 2008 election.

The survey of likely voters shows nonwhites, blacks and Hispanics sharing roughly the same share of the electorate Gallup predicted in 2008. According to Gallup's year by year analysis, blacks account for 11 percent of voters this year when in 2008, they made up 12 percent of the electorate. And Gallup predicts Hispanics grew to be 7 percent of the electorate, a one point increase since their 2008 prediction.

"Key elements of President Barack Obama's electoral coalitions, such as racial minorities, women, young adults and postgraduates will likely turn out at rates similar to those in 2008," the survey says.

[RELATED: Obama's Chances Hinge on Hispanic Turnout]

But the Obama campaign sees it differently.

"The electorate has changed," Jeremy Bird, the national field director for Obama's campaign, wrote in a memo Friday. "The Latino community is playing a key role in our diverse, grassroots movement to re-elect President Obama."

Bird observes that since 2008 voter registration among Latinos has soared. In North Carolina it is up 55 percent, up 20 percent in Colorado and up 15 percent in Nevada.

[READ: Romney Softens Immigration Stance, But Is Losing Latinos]

A new report by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials estimates the number of registered Latinos has skyrocketed by 26 percent during the last four years. And one eligible Latino voter turns 18 every 30 seconds.

The minority vote is a critical piece of Obama's reelection strategy. According to Gallup , Obama has seen a major drop in white support and will need a large minority turn out at the polls to win.

Alan Abramowitz, a polling expert at Emory University, says the Gallup survey grossly underestimates the growing number of minority voters likely to turn out in the 2012 election.

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"The racial make up of their likely voters are almost 80 percent white, and I think that is unrealistic," Abramowitz says.

National exit polls in 2008 showed only 74 percent were white and exit poling showed that Gallup had underestimated the turnout of both blacks and Latinos in its likely voter estimates in 2008.

"I think this likely voter poll is screwy," Abramowitz says.

But Gallup spokesman Frank Newport says Gallup's data is solid.

"This is the reason we do research, to get data instead of just speculation."

[RELATED: Romney's VP Choice Deepens GOP Hispanic Deficit]

Gallup's poll is based off of conversations with more than 9,000 likely voters scattered throughout the U.S. and Newport says Gallup takes special care to ensure Latino voters are accurately accounted for.

"We interview in Spanish and do everything we can to get a full and complete sample," Newport says.

Gallup also made another observation that could help Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day. Gallup predicts that for the first time in recent years, more voters identify as Republicans than Democrats.

Today 49 percent of likely voters identify as Republican or lean that way, while just 46 percent of likely voters polled said they planned on voting for a Democrat. That is a major swing since 2008 when Gallup predicted 54 percent of voters would cast ballots for Obama.

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News & World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.