Friday, November 7, 2008

Voter turnout: A split decision

Analysts can't agree on whether there was a sizable uptick in overall voting last Tuesday. The Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University says bullish pre-election estimates were all wrong. The center says the actual turnout will reach between 126.5 million and 128.5 million, which, percentage-wise, would put it close to the 2004 total -- "or, at most, one percent higher." But Michael P. McDonald, the George Mason University professor who runs the United States Election Project at that college, doesn't agree. McDonald has revised his original estimate of 133.3 million voters down to 130.9 million, but that's still appreciably higher than the AU center's estimate.

But both Curtis Gans, director of the AU center, and GMU's McDonald agree that some Republican voters, unenthusiastic about GOP presidential nominee John McCain, shunned the polling booth on Election Day. McDonald goes further, saying his higher turnout estimate reflects "Democrats and African-Americans enthusiastic to vote for Obama."

We won't know the actual turnout total until early December, when, says McDonald, all states will have certified results.

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