Posted Nov 11, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger
In terms of the percentage of eligible voters who actually turned out in 2008, the numbers are not much different from 2004. The issue in this election was not an increase in the overall numbers of voters, but a decrease in Republican participation and a significant jump in Democratic voter enthusiasm and participation. Obama's victory was due in large part to "a substantial electoral shift toward the Democratic Party and by winning a number of key groups in the middle of the electorate," according to a Pew Research Center analysis of exit polls. As recently as 2004, voters were evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats. In this election, however, 39 percent identify themselves as Democrats compared to 32 percent for the Republicans. (In this regard, Rasmussen came closest of any pollster to predicting the actual "party weighting" of the electorate in 2008.) This balance was more skewed than in either of the last two Democratic presidential victories when Bill Clinton ran in 1992 and 1996. The biggest of the gains for the Democratic ticket among demographic groups since 2004--groups that would prove instrumental in Obama's decisive victory--were Hispanics (+13%), 18 to 29 year olds (+12%), urban voters (+9%), voters making over $100,000 a year (+8%) and African Americans (+7%). The Pew study also reports that Obama did better with voters in the ideological center than most Democrats: "While moderates have favored the Democratic candidate in each of the past five elections, Barack Obama gained the support of more voters in the ideological "middle" than did either John Kerry or Al Gore before him. He won at least half the votes of independents (52% vs. 49% for Kerry), suburban voters (50% vs. 47% for Kerry), Catholics (54% vs. 47% for Kerry), and other key swing groups in the electorate."