Friday, May 01, 2009

More Info On the 2008 Electorate--Guess Who Had the Highest Turnout

Much too long without a post. Several are in the works so stay tuned. Until some longer ruminations, I'd point to this report, released yesterday, on the composition of the 2008 electorate. Produced by the Pew Research Center, it gives us more insight into last year's turnout as well as the composition and participation of different subsets of the American electorate. A couple interesting points to note:
  • The composition of the American electorate is the most diverse ever. 2008's electorate saw increases in African-American, Asian, and especially Hispanic voters. The white share of the electorate was its lowest ever at 76%.
  • The historical white/black turnout gap virtually disappeared in 2008. White turnout was 66.1% and black turnout was 65.2%. Obviously the Obama candidacy was a crucial component in this but this cannot be good news for future Republican candidates in the black electorate can stay energized.
  • The gap between men and women overall in turnout continued. Female turnout was 65.7% while for men it was 61.5%
  • The highest turnout among any group--factoring in race and gender--was African American women. Turnout for black females was 68.8%!!!
  • While turnout among the young and their composition of the electorate was rather stable compared to 2004, the highest turnout rate among the young--by race--was among black voters. Black voters between the ages of 18 and 29 had a turnout rate of 58.2%.

I found these last two points to be really interesting. What we don't know, of course, is the durability of these trends and whether they will manifest themselves in elections without Obama on the ballot (say the 2010 midterms). It would seem, though, that this increased turnout among especially young and female African Americans produced some tangible outcomes. If you look at a state like North Carolina--which Obama won by a mere 14,000 votes--it seems likely that the Tarheel State would have stayed in the Republican column had we not seen this spike in turnout.

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