Saturday, December 11, 2010

Change in voter turnout from 2008 to 2010

It's commonly reported that the turnout for US midterm elections differs from presidential elections. I've always assumed this to be the case without thinking about it in anything more than a general sense. Because any type of restraint on voter participation--whether it is a legal restriction like being incarcerated at voting time or just one of volition like bad weather or a hip black friend not being up for election, is good for those on the right--I figured numbers for whites, the affluent, and older folks would drop off less than they would for minorities, the poor, and the young.

Exit polling allows for actual quantitative comparisons to be made, and the following table does just that, looking at the change in the absolute number of voters from 2008 to 2010, and, more interestingly, the declines in percentage terms across various demographic categories:


2008
2010
Abs chg
% chg
Male
55190120
40125074
(15065046)
(27.3)
Female
62235668
43468831
(18766837)
(30.2)





White
86895083
64367307
(22527776)
(25.9)
Black
15265352
9195330
(6070023)
(39.8)
Hispanic
9394063
6687512
(2706551)
(28.8)
Asian
2348516
1671878
(676638)
(28.8)
Other
3522774
1671878
(1850896)
(52.5)





18-24yo
11742579
5015634
(6726945)
(57.3)
25-29
9394063
5015634
(4378429)
(46.6)
30-39
21136642
11703147
(9433495)
(44.6)
40-49
24659415
17554720
(7104695)
(28.8)
50-64
31704963
26750050
(4954913)
(15.6)
65+
17613868
17554720
(59148)
(0.3)





<$30k 21136642
14210964
(6925678)
(32.8)
30-50k
22310900
15882842
(6428058)
(28.8)
50-75k
25833673
17554720
(8278953)
(32.0)
75-100k
17613868
12539086
(5074782)
(28.8)
100-200k
23485158
15882842
(7602316)
(32.4)
200k+
7045547
6687512
(358035)
(5.1)





Less than HS
4697032
2507817
(2189214)
(46.6)
HS grad
24659415
14210964
(10448452)
(42.4)
Some college
36401994
23406293
(12995701)
(35.7)
College grad
32879221
25078172
(7801049)
(23.7)
Postgraduate
19962384
17554720
(2407664)
(12.1)





Democrat
46970315
29257867
(17712448)
(37.7)
Republican
38750510
29257867
(9492643)
(24.5)
Independent
32879221
24242232
(8636988)
(26.3)





Liberal
25833673
16718781
(9114892)
(35.3)
Moderate
51667347
31765684
(19901663)
(38.5)
Conservative
39924768
35109440
(4815328)
(12.1)





Protestant
64584183
45976648
(18607536)
(28.8)
Catholic
30530705
19226598
(11304107)
(37.0)
Jewish
2348516
1671878
(676638)
(28.8)
Other
7045547
6687512
(358035)
(5.1)
None
14091095
10031269
(4059826)
(28.8)





Union member
24659415
14210964
(10448452)
(42.4)
No union member
92766373
69382941
(23383431)
(25.2)





Urban
34053479
25914111
(8139368)
(23.9)
Suburban
57538636
40961013
(16577623)
(28.8)
Rural
25833673
16718781
(9114892)
(35.3)





Gov't do more
59887152
31765684
(28121468)
(47.0)
Gov't does too much
50493089
46812587
(3680502)
(7.3)





Northeast
27007931
17554720
(9453211)
(35.0)
Midwest
29356447
20898476
(8457971)
(28.8)
South
39924768
25914111
(14010657)
(35.1)
West
21136642
19226598
(1910044)
(9.0)

Unsurprisingly, black numbers dropped the most. Blacks are the most 'racist' group in the US, and there weren't any high profile races across the country involving black candidates. Consequently, more than one in three blacks who voted in 2008 stayed home in 2010 (where the black option existed, though, blacks kept pace with whites--blacks constituted 25% of the electorate in South Carolina in 2008, and did so again in 2010). The "other" figure decreased from 3% to 2% from '08 to '10 according to exit polling data, but that's presumably more an artifact of reporting percentages in whole figures and probably shouldn't be taken seriously.

The drop among those aged 18-24 is the only category, save for the "other" racial classification, precipitous enough for the 2010 total to be less than half of what it was in 2010. Black ops is in, helping the hip black guy push through his political agenda is out. We'll vote for our favorite celebrity, but not for his Congressional allies. How boring! I advocate emulating Hertz and Avis and raising the voting age to 25.

Those of retirement age, in contrast, maintained virtually the exact same numbers as they did in '08. As age increases, the drop in participation steadily decreases. The recent elections were decided by adults.

Among those earning up to $200,000, the decreases are consistent. Only the rich deviated from the overall trend, coming out in relatively greater force than the rest of the population. Deficit spending driving the US economy off the cliff and all that matters to people with money.

The relationship between educational attainment and voting rate changes is, as in the case of age, clear and consistent. Nearly half of those who didn't graduate high school who voted in '08 did not vote in '10. That only applied to one-eighth of those with graduate degrees.

An obvious reason the Democratic party took a shellacking this time around is that liberals and Democrats were less motivated to vote than they were in '08. In contrast, self-described conservatives were out in close to the same numbers both elections.

Not only was the election decided by adults, the adults were far more skeptical of government involvement in society than the kiddos were a couple of years ago. In '08, 60 million voters shared the sentiment that "government should do more". This time, only 32 million voters did. And they were a minority--47 million said "government is doing too much".

I assume California, where several "key" elections took place, is the reason that the decrease in the west is smaller than it is throughout the rest of the country.


9 comments:

silly girl said...

Bizarre coincidence?

Liberal and rural voters were exactly the same in numbers?

Audacious Epigone said...

observant girl,

There are a couple of instances of the identical figures showing up for different categories because I took the national total in House race votes for each year and then used exit polling percentages--which are all rounded to whole numbers--for absolute numbers. I probably should've rounded to avoid the appearance of precision, but in any case, that's why I highlighted the column farthest to the right--it is the most important in gauging differences between the electorate in the two cycles.

tanabear said...

"there weren't any high profile races across the country involving black candidates."

Alvin Greene. *)

Audacious Epigone said...

Tanabear,

Mentioned it parenthetically, but it was more comical than high profile in the sense that it was taken to represent some kind of political barometer. It reinforced black tribalistic tendencies though, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

"It reinforced black tribalistic tendencies though, that's for sure."


Specific ethnicity aside, is just being a minority a factor in increasing tribalistic tendencies? Blacks are not being abused as a minority at this point. However, does just the condition of minority, as an independent variable, increase fear and suspicion of the majority? If so, does the effect vary by group? Given the tribalistic genocides that occur in Africa, it seems reasonable for Africans to be pretty fearful of the other. Could be a catch 22 of sorts. That is, they are better off as minority among a more prosperous group, but their endemic fear may lead them to choose the more familiar but also more dangerous folks in their own group.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

Are East Asians in the US suspicious of whites? Are whites in Japan suspicious of the Japanese? Not to the extent that blacks in the US are of whites, I don't think.

Anonymous said...

"Are East Asians in the US suspicious of whites?"

Well there was that psycho prof that Dennis Mangan blogged on. Also, they vote more democrat even though on average earn more than whites but aren't super rich enough to get breaks the connected get. So, not sure really.

frost said...

My apologies if this has been covered elsewhere but it seems to me from eyeballing the tables that the groups with a higher IQ tend to have a smaller drop off between presidential election years and by-years. That wouldn't be surprising given the correlation between IQ and conscientiousness but I do wonder if you have run the numbers?

Audacious Epigone said...

Frost,

I assume that is the case based on the rough proxies we have for IQ like income and levels of educationally attainment, but there isn't a way to gauge IQ directly from exit polling (at least not one that I'm aware of!).