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Voter turnout?

Did the American presidential election this year result in a higher voter turnout than earlier? And did it get more blacks, hispanics and asians to the ballots than before? An Indian colleague of mine, Ranjit, made a bet with me that a higher percentage of blacks than whites voted this time. That’s a risky one since whites has always had a higher turnout through the American election history.


Turnout -2004

Source: Migration Policy Institute 2008


Lacking official data for 2008 it’s not so easy to say yet. Though we know this much. The total population in the US above 18 y/o is 231 mill. Subtracting non-citizens and people in jail etc, and adding overseas, one gets 213 million as voter eligible population. Of those 71.9% are white, 11.0% are black, 12.8% are hispanic and 4.3% are asian according to the US Census Bureau. Provided of course that non citizens and those in jail, on parole etc are evenly distributed among races – which they probably are not (e g there is a much higher prop of non citizens in California and Arizona = Hispanics).

Anyway, some 133 million probably voted in the presidential election. It is a rough number because we don’t know yet. But that gives an overall voter turnout of 62.6%. Exit polls (CNN) gave us 74% white, 13% blacks, 9% hispanics and 2% asians among those who actually voted on election day.

Finally, that would suggest a voter turnout by race of 64% for whites, 74% for blacks, 44% for Hispanics and 29% for Asians. For the latter three there are large margins of errors depending on how reliable the exit poll is. But if this is right, white and hispanic turnouts are about the same as 2004. Black turnout, however, is very much higher (74 compared to some 60%). Thus, I may have lost a bet and will have to pay a large sum of rupies for a spicy meal…


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