It's taken about a year, but thanks to new Census numbers and to Project Vote, we now have the most accurate picture of who voted, who didn't vote, and how the voting patterns compare to previous elections. The highlights: 64% of the 204 million voting-age Americans voted, up about 6 million in number and 4 percentage points from 2004. Historically underrepresented groups made gains in this election. Non-whites made up more than 90% of the increase in the total number of voters. The authors conclude that had non-whites voted at the same percentage as whites, more than 5 million more votes would have been cast in 2008. The study, by Douglas Hess and Jody Herman, finds that had voters under 30 voted at the same rates as their counterparts over 30, more than 7 million additional ballots would have been cast.
No wonder Republicans worry about a Democratic demographic storm. Young voter turnout has increased at a rate of about 30% per general election since 2000. Indeed, the rate of increase was higher from 2000 to 2004 than from 2004 to 2008. Women turned out at a higher rate than men. Black men under 30 saw their participation rates increase by eight percentage points, Latino women and women under thirty grew by 6% and Asian women saw their participation rates grow by 13 points. Young black women voted at the highest rate among voters under 30 -- and the only turnout rate that exceed the voting rates by white people of any age. White women under 30 voted at a rate of 52% -- higher than all but black women under 30.