Additional Evidence on Voter Turnout:

This article reports on studies by political scientist Curtis Gans that show that voter turnout this year increased only modestly, at most. As Gans points out, there was a significant increase in the raw total of votes from about 122.3 million in 2004 to as many as 128.5 million this year. However, he calculates that there was only a slight increase in percentage turnout of those eligible. As I pointed out in this post, there was a 4.7% increase in the number of people eligible to vote between 2004 and 2008. Taking the upper range of Gans' estimate of total votes in 2008, we see a 5.0% increase since 2004, almost exactly equal to the population increase.

Gans suggests that there may been lower turnout among Republicans since 2004, offsetting higher turnout by Democrats. However, the decline in the Republican percentage of the electorate is likely instead due to the fact that fewer people identify as Republicans than in 2004. Only 28% of Americans now self-identify as Republicans, compared to 33% in 2004. This decline in Republican identification is actually larger than Gans' estimate of the decline in the percentage of Republicans in this year's voter turnout (a fall to 28.7% from 30% in 2004).

As I mentioned in my last post on this subject (linked below), some other scholars are making different predictions, and I think we might still end up with final numbers showing a modest increase in turnout. But it looks like there was not the massive increase that Democratic activists and much of the media have been trumpeting. Ironically, however, this is actually good news for the Democratic Party. It suggests that Obama's victory was not the result of a one-time, unusually high turnout by first-time and "sporadic" voters. It may also be good news for those of us who believe that the objective of increasing voter turnout is overrated and oversold.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Additional Evidence on Voter Turnout:
  2. There (Probably) Was No Great Increase in Voter Turnout this Year: