November 7th, 2008
05:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Record turnout?

Turnout was nearly the same as in 2004.
Turnout was nearly the same as in 2004.

(CNN) - Was there a record turnout in the election?

Of Democrats, yes. Of all voters, not so much.

We expected to see amazingly high voter turnout in this election.

Was there?

Just over 208 million voting-age American citizens were eligible to vote this year. Just over 187 million were registered to vote. Edison Media Research estimates that a total of just over 130 million actually voted for President, either in person or by mail. That's over 62 percent of all Americans eligible to vote. That's two points higher than four years ago. 2008 continues a steady trend of higher voter turnout since 1996. But it's not exactly a quantum leap.

The Center for the Study of the American Elecotrate Explains it this way."A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower-than-predicted turnout. . . . The long lines at the polls were mostly populated by Democrats."

According to the exit polls, the African-American share of the vote did go up slightly, from 11 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2008. The white share declined a few points and Latinos stayed the same.

The share of young voters went up by one percentage point. The share of new voters stayed the same.

But there was a noticeable shift by party. Democrats went from 37 percent of voters in 2004 to 40 percent this year. Independents also went up. Republicans declined from 37 to 32. All consistent with pre-election polls that showed Democrats excited and Republicans demoralized.

Something else failed to happen - the so-called "Bradley effect," where voters tell pollsters they intend to vote for an African-American candidate and then don't.

There is no evidence that people were lying to pollsters.

The CNN poll taken by the Opinion Research Corporation just before the election showed Barack Obama getting 53 percent of the vote and John McCain 46 percent. That is exactly what they got.

CNN and Time's pre-election poll, also conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, showed Obama winning Florida, the biggest battleground state, by four points. Obama won Florida by three.

The pre-election poll predicted Obama would carry Ohio by four. He did.

The story of this election was not so much a huge surge of new voters as it was a huge surge of Democratic enthusiasm. And Republican defeatism.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. GET REAL.

    I think everyone should stop trying to be seers and soothsayers about what will happen and concentrate on what is happening. You don't know Obama will ruin this country, and you don't know that he'll save it either. That's humanity: you make choices from the facts available, and then you toss the dice. No one knows who will roll what. All the bitterness gets you nowhere, makes you look foolish, and just shows the immaturity people in the country still have.

    If you were really the disciplined adults you claim to be, you just end the hating in the first place and go home and teach your children tolerance and respect, so they don't end up brain dead and bitter like some adults nowadays. Period.

    CNN, if you can post "Truth Hurts" and all his drivel, and you can post people who think that African-Americans are beneath them, then you can show some decency and post this. PLEASE.

    November 7, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Maggie

    Rob Johnson – you are right. My sons are teenagers and they are 100% for Obama. They will have the opportunity to vote to re-elect him.

    November 7, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. Uh huh?

    Uh huh:

    You might be right about what will happen, but he didn't win for the reasons you state. He won because the last guy's lies caught up to him.

    November 7, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  4. Arthur James

    The silent majority wins again.

    November 7, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. KJL

    I know two Republicans who said they would abstain rather than vote for a ticket with Palin on it. They both liked John McCain.

    November 7, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. Concerned Texan

    Ha..ha...ha and the grumbling continues. The negativity and name calling is getting a little sickening. I don't think that the republican party can be blamed for all the hatred as a party, but rather by those that had no other platform from which to spew this mindset. Most of the nation is tired of the bigotry exemplified during this past election season. To hate someone for no reason other than that they do not look like you is slowly showing others just how ugly things HAD gotten and now it's time to try to heal this attitude so we can focus our efforts on truly educating the children, who are our future, so that we can again compete with the rest of the world especially in the technologies. I think that together, we, the United States of America, are about to see some of our best years globally.

    November 7, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Simmy

    Dems have a candidate that they love, that's why the huge turnout!

    Go Dems!

    November 7, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. Pat in Cali

    The Bradley effect is a myth. Low voter turnout and a small airplane landing on a major freeway right before rush hour in Los Angeles on election day cost Bradley the election. There was no Bradley effect.

    Notice Rasmussen and CNN Polls got it right.

    November 7, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  9. Concerned Californian

    I'm a teenager who was totally for Obama this year, but no one can start making predictions now as to whether the youth vote will still be for Obama in 2012. Many of the people I go to school with probably couldn't imagine voting for a Republican in 2012, but it all depends on how Obama acts and governs during his first term. Most liberals aren't led blindly, so if Obama makes some serious mistakes 2012 could go either way. At the time being the only thing us lefties can do is hope that our new Senate and House supports our new president, that Obama sticks to the promises he made and the positions he held, and that by 2012 we are out of our intimidating economic crisis.

    November 7, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. The right choice ?

    I always thought AMERICA was about HONOR and DIGNITY not a FREE ride.

    November 7, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Luigi ina California

    Whatever. It worked, though, didn't it?

    November 7, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Independent white female patriotic voter

    Now that's what I call rallying the base. Obama is the man!

    November 7, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. reggie

    If McCain was able to get out the vote, he would have won. He had the better message and the most experience. However, He did NOT have the big money and media in his corner. Tough obstacles to overcome. Plus, white people didn't vote for McCain simply because he was white....unlike the record number of black people who blindly followed Obama because of his skin color. AND DON'T CALL ME RACIST, THEY ARE THE ONES BEING RACIST.

    November 7, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  14. Jaye

    Our country rose to the occasion and done good!!!!!
    I love Obama's comment about the puppy – a mutt like me!!!!! Awesome!

    November 7, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. DeVone

    It is true to say that to each his own President Elect Obama
    won on his Intelligance on his morals his demena
    THE ISUES and by people of intelligance

    November 7, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. mopy

    hey where be the article about Obama being improper at his first press conference ripping on Nancy Reagan? I thought spouses were off limits?

    November 7, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Mike Dallas

    40 vs 32. and still the Republicans say it is a center right country??

    Good, as long as they refuse to accept reality, we will keep winning eleictions by voting straight Dem tickets!

    November 7, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  18. MikeH

    To 'Truth Hurts';

    Your moniker says it all, you are feeling a lot of pain right now, I imagine.

    The Republican "Suppress the Vote" machine was blown up by Obama counter-battery fire.

    The Republican "Smear Hate and Lies" machine self-destructed.

    The "Respectable McCain Campaign" was strangled in its crib.

    The "Straight Talk Express" went through the guard rails and plummeted into the abyss.

    The RNC organization collapsed because it had a foundation built on sand and the economic tide came in.

    That's the truth for you, I'm sorry it hurts you so, next time pick a more rational and reasonable belief system.

    November 7, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. Steve the I.T. guy

    Why the heck is my comment still in Moderation when there's lots of posts time-stamped after mine that is just trash talk? Is it because I said I was a Republican? I guess that must be it. Nice job at Fair and Balanced CNN, you just proved my point about Media involvement. Too bad I can't get http://www.foxnews.com at work or I'd be there instead of here.

    November 7, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. Bill in Ct.

    For all you idiots out here who thinks Obama is going to ruin this country, without even giving the guy a change, you should be shame of yourselfs . Here we have Bush and Chaney for 8yrs and they have run this country in the gutter, high gas prices, banks collapse, invasions of another country, spending 10 billion dollars a month in Iraq, mortgage collapse, jobs being lost at a record pace, businesses shutting down. Need I remind you fools when Bush stole the election back in 2000, we had a surplus of 5trillion dollars and now we have a negative -10 trillion dollars and you idiots are worried about Obama, PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK !!!!!!!!

    November 7, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Dave, Illinois

    Hey DevOne, "people of intelligance"? Do you mean, perhaps, people like you who don't know how to form a proper sentence?

    Hey CanIcallyouJoe, your reference to historic Nazi Germany displays you complete ignorance of history.

    Honestly, people like you who try to raise yourself by demeaning others make me laugh. Thanks for the entertainment.

    November 7, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. Micheal S. O'Brien

    If, I could have 'voted' twice for Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joe Biden.., I would have. Mike in Montana

    November 7, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. PDX Gal

    And yet.... the lines were horrific.

    Our system is so broken. People shouldn't have to stand in 8 or 10 hour lines.

    November 7, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. Suzy

    I am not buying the fact that Republicans did not vote this year. Someone please add up the number of Republicans voted in 2000 or 2004. I am quite sure it this year outnumbered the past elections. GOP had steal enough votes just to keep up with Obama. Half the votes McCain got more than likely beong to Obama. McCain knows he had a poorly ran campaign this year. Hopefully, that many people didn't realistically support what he was talking about. If McCain ran his campaign based on his last speech. The numbers may have been that high because his last speech appeared to be sincere.

    November 7, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. Voter

    It concerns me that people are comparing him to JFK and expecting so much of him very fast. That's a huge ideal that's impossible for anybody to live up to. Even JFK wasn't JFK!!!

    November 7, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
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