Simple Question: Was Turnout Historically High or Just Flat?

by: tremayne

Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 16:15

I'm hearing contradictory reports on this issue. Kos said last night that turnout sucked. Paul reiterated that view earlier today. Meanwhile, Politico and others are reporting that turnout percentage will set a modern era record. I don't see their evidence for this, they just say it will exceed 130 million. So far, CNN shows about 119.5 million votes for Obama and McCain combined. Presumably there's another million or two for third party candidates.

I wrote about turnout two days ago and you can see a chart of turnout percentage history here. So which is it? Historically high turnout or disappointing turnout? 

tremayne :: Simple Question: Was Turnout Historically High or Just Flat?

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Kos's total higher... (0.00 / 0)
Just looking at their interactive map, they have it at 121,313,422.  There are still a lot of outstanding votes on the west coast, though I'm not sure there are 9M more... It does seem like some votes are missing considering some of the other stories I read.

I gather 3M outstanding absentee ballots just in CA (0.00 / 0)
yet to be counted. In WA, absentee votes only have to be postmarked by election day - from memory, that's been around 1/3 of their vote too.

[ Parent ]
There Are Probably 3-5 Million More To Be Counted (0.00 / 0)
Though no one knows for sure.  But this still leaves us 10 million short of the high end 137 million that was cited from MSNBC.

I don't claim to know anything for certain here.  I'm just pointing to the gap between the expectations and the vote totals, which seems pretty damn big this late in the game.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
GMU GUY (0.00 / 0)

THis guy is a turnout expert... his conservative opinion is 133 million... Apparently, and First Read says the same thing, there is a lot of missing vote from the west.    

[ Parent ]
Youth vote (0.00 / 0)
I've read that the under 30 vote increased by just one percent over 2004.

Strange, if true.

statistics (4.00 / 1)
I read a post last week -- maybe here, maybe on 538 -- about the difference between the youth turnout and the youth share of the electorate. The youth turnout was projected to be huge, but the youth share of the electorate was projected to be flat because of the increase in turnout overall. So the youth vote was huge, but the non-youth vote was also huge.

[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1)
The youth share increased by about 1 point, which means youth surged more in turnout than the public as a whole. But the biggest factor was that they were much more heavily Democratic than they have been before.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm not following (0.00 / 0)
but doesn't the meaning of that figure that depend on the final turnout statistics?

If turnout was flat, this seems to be a disappointing number, but I suppose that depends in part on the what was realistically projected.  

[ Parent ]
There's math (0.00 / 0)
I think the under 30 share of the vote increased from 17% of the electorate to 18%. That doesn't seem like a big change, but if overall turnout increased by, say, 5%, it works out to a pretty significant increase. That scenario would work out to an 11% increase in the number of young voters vs. a 5% increase in the electorate at large. (Multiply the new share percentage times the turnout increase, then divide by the old turnout percentage to get the percentage increase over 2004.)

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
My calculation (0.00 / 0)
If turnout remained flat, as it well may have, then the increase is about 5.8%, I think, but I'm not good at math.

I suppose one needs to subtract the natural growth rate of the demographic, but I doubt that would cut more than a point off of that statistic.  So, figure at least a 5%ish rise in participation.  

[ Parent ]
BTW, the youth share of the vote was higher than the 65+ share vote (0.00 / 0)
The 18-29 share of the vote was at 18%, while the 65+ share of the vote was only 16% of the electorate.

[ Parent ]
2004 Exits (0.00 / 0)
The over-65 vote was 16% of the electorate then as well.

The 18-29 was 17%.

[ Parent ]
There are millions of vote left to be counted (0.00 / 0)
probably 4 million in CA, 1.5 million each in OR and WA. That's 7 million right there.

Just wait until the votes are counted before making turnover arguments.

correction: turnover = turnout n.t. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
yes (4.00 / 1)
that would be a completely different argument:

[ Parent ]
I'm With You and tremayne on Turnovers, But... (0.00 / 0)
turnout not so much, as the figures you cite are higher than I've been hearing.

Don't get me wrong.  I sure hope you're right, as we can use all the potential we can get for making up ground vs. Prop 8 and to get rid of Smith. But I haven't seen figures that high.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
small hope (0.00 / 0)
That when it is all counted, that McCain's PV absolute total is less than Kerry's.  Obama already has the top slot for most raw votes ever, be nice if Kerry was #3.

I just checked Kos' election site, and California, Oregon and Washington are all reporting significantly less votes than 2004's totals.  So it does seem there are pile of Obama favouring votes to come.  

His PV margin could grow, maybe he could hit 53% which would be awesome.

UPDATE (0.00 / 0)
The 538 guy has a post on this:

Sounds like "the truth is in between." Where have I heard that?

The first, more boring, tagline (0.00 / 0)
for the X-Files?

[ Parent ]
It seems like an unqualified YES to the question - high historically (0.00 / 0)
I'm assuming here that the calculation made here is taking 130 million, and deriving the 64% based on around 203 million eligible voters.  (130/203 = 64%).

Taking Nate Silver's low end - 125 million - that's still 61%, of the 203 million.

This is 6% better than 4 years ago - and a rate not seen since 1964, right?

And that is Nate's low estimate.  If you take 127.5 million, then you get 62.8% 0 which brings you back to 1960 - where your chart begins.

So - highest percentage rate since the 1960's?

That is historically high turnout, right?

Who woulda thought ... (0.00 / 0)
that Obama would win not because of EITHER a massive youth turnout, a massive African American turnout (which was higher than usual but nothing extraordinary), or even a tidal wave of voters of any kind, but instead just because the Repubs couldn't turn out their peeps. This is why I love politics: Everything we absolutely KNOW is coming has a good chance of not coming to pass.


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