November 7th, 2008
05:00 PM ET
12 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. Mike

    I have been amazed by the number of die-in-the wool republicans who have told me afterwards THEY voted Obama–a Bradley effect in reverse! It seems that many moderate, traditional, thinking, Republicans, voted for Obama (like Colin Powell, ect) while their more extreme–and vocal–counterparts held the party line. How's THAT for a silent majority (or minority, I guess)? At any event, it answers the question where all those 'undecideds' went.
    Obama's victory is our victory and will likely elevate the conduct of US politics for the foreseeable future.

    November 7, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Clyde Farris

    Joe Lieberman should be removed from all chairmanships. If he really is a man of principal, as he claims to be, his votes will not be affected, but if he’s just looking out for himself, its no loss and we wont’ have to watch our backside anymore.

    November 7, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. Hawaii Island Humane Society

    Dear President-Elect Obama,

    Though I’m not a Blue Dog (you’ll be meeting with enough of them come January), I am a pound puppy, a pretty pooch, a poi dog extraordinaire.

    Now I don’t usually brag, but when they turned on the television at the Hawaii Island Humane Society so we could all watch your victory speech, my ears sure perked up when I heard your promise to your daughters….. that they’d get a puppy to bring with them to the White House. What a paw-some thing to say!

    Well I’m cute as they come I tell you. Sure, I’m a poi dog, but you grew up in Hawaii so you know that poi dogs make devoted pets and we come in all shapes, sizes and colors. …and we come in non-allergenic models too!

    Among the hundreds of dogs to choose from, how amazingly special would it be for the White House to have a POI dog? Gosh, you’d have a lot of explaining to do when people ask what kind of dog I am, but you’d never have to explain yourself to the millions of people who are looking to you to do the right thing.

    We understand each other, you and I. You’ve already announced that your family would rescue a dog. I know you have a big heart. So maybe when you’re in Hawaii in December, you could come by and visit me?

    I’ll be the one who looks, well, like I’d do really well in Washington D.C. I’ll be the one who jumps on to Malia or Sasha’s lap. You’ll know I’m the right one. I won’t be perfect; I’ll be a Poi Dog.

    A Hui Hou (until we meet).
    With Aloha,

    (My name means “gift”)

    November 7, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  4. Mark Ramsey MD Milwaukee WI

    This is an important lesson for all of us. Elections matter. We can make a difference. We should never be afraid of our government; our government should be afraid of us.

    November 7, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. annie - never again a dem.

    How was the voter turnout in the extra seven states obama thinks we have? Is that where he got his record turnout? It wasn't in the 50 states that we do have.

    November 7, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. Lydia

    It doesn't surprise me that Republicans stayed home rather than vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. I don't know how anyone with a brain could have voted for Palin, the woman with "sentences to nowhere." She was so obviously and painfully ill-equipped for the job of vice president and I'm sure people in Alaska are ashamed of having voted for her for governor when she is so obviously a mental lightweight.

    After McCain selected Palin who was so woefully inadequate thinking he would win women voters (as if having a womb is a qualification for political office), it was quite painful to watch the Republicans feeling forced to defend her when they all knew she was not qualified.

    Some were tried and true party loyalists to a fault in public like Peggy Noonan who should have been fired by the Wall Street Journal when she wrote what proved to be a false, albeit glowing article in the WSJ about Palin only to say what she really thought that same evening when she thought she was off mike. Others like Christopher Hitchens and David Brooks could not in good conscience support McCain's anti-intellectual choice for VP.

    I am glad McCain-Palin lost. They are/were not good for America. Their entire "platform" was to paint Barack Obama as the scary Black guy, who is "not like us." Code for "he is Black." Fortunately for America their tactic of appealing to the insidious racism that is always just beneath the surface did not win them the election.

    It was my fervent prayer that when people went into the privacy of the voting booth they would vote for the best qualified candidate and that is just what happened. For once, racism did not win and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream was realized. For once, a man was judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. For that...we can all rejoice!

    November 7, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. Richard A. Spomer

    How many voted on a visa from another country, how many frauds gillnet votes was not identified, and how many ware illegal votes not caught?

    November 7, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. I too sing America

    As a young Black woman, I was taught by my parents that people had died for my voting rights. It took a constitutional amendment for women to be recognized in 1920. Since I have been 18, I have voted in every election. People always say they love this country, but fail to participate in its election process. Actions speak louder than words.

    November 7, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Texas Teacher

    Barack Obama won because the man is knock down intelligent! He was the man with the plan. Not the Bozo on the attack with lies and deception! I was stunned at the viciousness that was excused all over the press as normal run of the mill politics! If that is politics as usual, you should be able to see that We, the People, are SICK of it!

    That is a large part of what led us to Obama! Republicans have been giving us a dose of stupidy for 8 years.... is it any wonder that People have wised up and voted it OUT?

    November 7, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. yankeegirl15

    Truth hurts, rehab is good for the soul; you stinking rotten Neo-Con.

    November 7, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. posnivy

    Yeah we won!!!!!!

    November 7, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    I love the Mutt remark as well.... as a mutt myself... I understand completely! Cherokee, Choctaw, Apache, Dutch, Scotch-Irish, Welsh, German Jew.... and that is just the ones I know about so far....
    probably African American because most people do not understand the scope of slavery issues...

    if you are a 3rd generation American, you have over a 97% chance of having European, African, and American Indian ancestry whether you know it or like it or not! So says those who have studied genetics!

    November 7, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. Pat

    Shari, NY November 7th, 2008 5:37 pm ET
    Oh, it does not matter now! My candidate won and I am a proud mutt. United we stand – divided we fall!
    Shari - do you have ANY idea how to connect two thought processes? Did you even graduate high school?

    November 7, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Ben in Dallas

    Truth Hurts

    Your kidding, right?

    If not ,you were not on this planet for its last 365 orbits

    November 7, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. janine

    I think it's unbelievable that people blame the media for McCain losing and in their list of biased media they don't name Fox News. Fox News is a conservative biased station. Why do we always have to blame someone else when things don't turn out the way we wanted it? If I commit a crime and someone reports me, is it the fault of the person that reported me?

    November 7, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Chantal

    It is called the "OBAMA EFFECT". That is how i call President-Elect Obama's landslide victory.

    November 7, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Joe the Troll

    I find it hysterical that people are blaming the media for the outcome. Sure, after two consecutive Republican terms which were obvious disasters, the only reason the Dems won is a liberal media that won't give the Republicans a break.

    I thought that conservatives were about personal responsibility. How about taking the responsibility for Republican failures, like McCain's campaign?

    November 7, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. Chantal

    It is called the "OBAMA EFFECT".

    November 7, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  19. Alaska for Dems

    Sure enough ... in some Alaska precincts turnout exceeded 100%!!!!

    November 7, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  20. IowaMom

    Richard A. Spomer November 7th, 2008 8:24 pm ET

    How many voted on a visa from another country, how many frauds gillnet votes was not identified, and how many ware illegal votes not caught?


    Um, what?

    November 7, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  21. IowaMom

    reggie November 7th, 2008 7:26 pm ET

    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.


    What exact message did McCain bring? The bashing and the hate? I barely heard what he stood for. I mean no disrespect to him, but come on. And as far as the black vote, the black vote was not the deciding factor. Not one single group of voters gave Obama the victory, it was the fact that he was able to reach every group with his message.

    November 7, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. DrFill

    Many Republicans voted Democrat
    Joe Lieberman was the only dope to run to the losing team
    Since african-americans only make up 12% of the population, being 13% of the electorate is quite an achievement!

    November 7, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  23. mitch

    most hardcore republicans had no need to vote.

    November 7, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. the_good_hurt

    In Ga. I think someone cheated. Obama won this state. So many voted for him early and still on Friday they still counting the votes.WHAT'S WITH THAT?

    November 7, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. georgia girl

    democrat LANDSLIDE, america has spoken.

    November 7, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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