Yes, Clevelanders voted heavily for Obama in 2012. No, the results don’t seem all that unusual.

February 20, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 20, 2014

Bill Cunningham is a politically conservative attorney who has hosted a radio talk show on Cincinnati’s WLW 700 AM station for more than three decades. Since 2011, he’s also hosted The Bill Cunningham Show, a weekday television talk program that is filmed in New York City and is currently shown on the CW Network.

I’ve never seen any video of Cunningham, but I know a little about him from his appearances on various shows aired in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle on WTKK 106.1 FM. He’s an occasional guest on Sean Hannity’s radio program, and three hours of Cunningham’s own show air on WTKK beginning at 10 p.m. Sundays. (I’m unclear on whether these Sunday broadcasts involve original content or repackaged segments from Cunningham’s daily radio program.)

I was listening to Cunningham this past Sunday when he said something that made my jaw drop. Cunningham’s guest at the time was Bill Tucker, an editor for and the author of a new book called Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human. Although it was a comment by the host that caught my attention, I’ll let you read what Tucker said to set up that remark:

Tucker: I think you have to recognize that the Democrats have quite a racket going, and that is that the more single mothers they create, the more, the more they secure themselves [of] the vote of a huge percentage of the electorate. The breakdown — married people elected Mitt Romney in the last election. Married people voted about — married women voted for Romney. The split in the electorate now is not racial, it’s not income; it’s between married people and single people. And single women are this huge, are the largest — they’re about a quarter of the electorate now, and they voted just overwhelmingly, something like 65 to 35, for Obama, and they handed him the election, basically. The same thing happened in this recent election in Virginia. Now the Democrats have defined this, the issue — it’s a war against women.

Cunningham: [Laughs] No, it’s a war against marriage, is what it is, and the Democrats have won it. In fact, there were precincts in Cincinnati and Cleveland — I know in Cleveland — there were several precincts in Cleveland that voted 24,000 to zero for Obama. Now, statistically, that is impossible.

Wow. Several precincts in Cleveland voted 24,000–0 for Obama, huh? That certainly does seem suspicious. Or at least, it would seem suspicious — if it had happened.

Here are the facts. In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, there were 11 precincts in which Barack Hussein Obama and Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. won every single valid vote in the 2012 general election presidential contest. That means that in those sections, there were 2,549 votes registered: 11 invalid overvotes, in which the voters inappropriately marked more than one selection for president; 11 uncounted undeervotes, in which the voters did not select any presidential ticket; and 2,527 votes for the Obama-Biden Democratic ticket.

In those 11 precincts, exactly zero votes were cast for any of the other alternatives: the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Romney, the other five listed tickets (independent, Constitution, Green, Libertarian and Socialist, if I understand the election materials correctly), and write-in candidates.

The largest unanimous result came from the Cleveland 2-Q precinct, with 579 votes for Obama-Biden and 3 undervotes (blanks). As of Nov. 5, 2012, the day before that year’s election, the precinct had 871 registered voters, of whom 369 were Democrats. The next most populous categories were NP, evidently having no party, with 272 voters; and one labeled “No,” which I frankly am unable to distinguish from NP, with 228 voters. Of the remainder, there was one registered Republican, one Socialist Party member, and no Constitutional, Libertarian or Green party members.

The data are similar for the other 10 precincts that went 100 percent for Obama. In fact, when I toted up all the numbers, those 11 jurisdictions had a total of nine registered Republicans.

Additionally, there were nine Cuyahoga precincts won by Obama in which Romney did not garner any votes. (These weren’t unanimous Democratic wins because a total of 14 valid votes were cast for minor-party, independent or write-in candidates in these jurisdictions.) These divisions, which had more registered voters than the 11 unanimous areas, gave Obama and Biden 3,827 votes. Collectively, the nine areas had just 33 registered Republicans.

(Cuyahoga County’s 2012 election results are posted here. You can get an overview of the 2012 election results here. To get a page of a precinct-by-precinct balloting for every contest, click here; I imported the presidential data for all 1,077 precincts into a spreadsheet. The county’s voter registration data can be found on this page; the information as of November 2012 appears in this document.)

In the 278 precincts registering 90 percent or more of their valid votes for the Democratic ticket, the count was 140,645 to 3,569, for a 97 percent Obama lean. There were 436 jurisdictions that sent at least 80 percent of their valid votes for the Democrats; in all, they had 207,978 Obama ballots and 14,540 Romney ballots, a 93 percent margin for the Democrats.

Overall, the county opted for Obama-Biden over Romney-Ryan by a margin of 447,273 (68.8 percent) to 190,660 (29.3 percent), or 256,613 votes.

Was Cuyahoga County pivotal to the outcome of the 2012 election? In a way.

Obama won the state of Ohio with 2,827,709 votes (50.67 percent), against 2,661,437 for Romney (47.7 percent), or by a margin of 166,272. So if Cuyahoga had only opted for Obama by a margin of, say, 160,000 votes, then the entire state of Ohio would have tipped its 18 electoral votes into the Republican column, making Romney the runner-up — still.

I’ll let Robert Scheslinger explain this part. From his Jan. 4, 2013, column for U.S. News & World Report:

Obama won 26 states and the District of Columbia, piling up 332 electoral votes. You can think of it another way: There is no state in Obama’s column which would have swung the election to Romney had he won it. In other words, if Romney had pulled a stunning upset and won California’s 55 electoral votes … he’d still have lost.

There were only four especially close states in the 2012 election. Only Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia were decided by less than 5 percentage points. (Note: Romney won one of them, North Carolina; had he swept those four states … he’d have still lost the election as Obama totaled 272 electoral votes in the rest of the country.) Four is the smallest number of close states in a presidential election since Reagan trounced Walter Mondale nearly 30 years ago.

So no matter how you slice or dice the election results, this was not a close race. It wasn’t a landslide, but it wasn’t a coin flip. The voters selected Obama and his vision over Romney and his, and they did it decisively.

And you can layer onto that the fact that, against all expectations, Democrats picked up seats in the U.S. Senate and also in the U.S. House. And while the GOP did retain control of the House, nearly 1.4 million more people voted for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans. 1.4 million—remember that figure the next time someone says Americans voted for divided government last year.

Bill Cunningham doesn’t particularly need any guidance from me, but I will offer this one modest suggestion: He should probably rest easy about statistical irregularities in Cleveland voting during the 2012 election.

I won’t tell Cunningham to relax when it comes to what he describes as the Democratic war on marriage. But the next time he digresses into voting statistics, perhaps he’ll find it helpful to have a few accurate numbers at his disposal.

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