Turnout, Voting, and Polling
High turnout was anticipated all over the country and many people had to wait in long lines. I got to my polling place, the Police Station at 9 AM and there was a short line, right to the door. Most of the people that I know from my town vote in one of two schools and they all had to wait in lines for over an hour. My line had me in and out in 20 minutes. The only interesting story from my experience was there was a guy in front of me with a greyhound in a fleece coat. Since there was a ballot initiative to ban greyhound racing this year, a police officer asked the owner not to bring his dog into the polling area. Itâ€™s against the law to display anything political while voting and the officer was concerned some people might be uncomfortable with the dog there. What resulted, however, was the dog being tied up outside of the polling area and crying. Not sure that wasnâ€™t worse. In any case, letâ€™s get on to the stories.
From the Washington Monthly:
But a 64% turnout rate is a very big deal. According to this Wiki entry, turnout four years ago was about 56%, and that was considered a pretty good year. More notably, turnout was 63% in the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and that was the high watermark of the modern political era.â€ 130 million people voted, 64% of voting age population.
Daily Kos on the Youth Vote:
Youth voters in California were the only demographic to vote against the unAmerican Proposition 8, which means the foes of equal rights are going to lose in the long run...Moreover, maybe young people will be able to educate or shame their elders into wising up in this matter.
Daily Kos again with the kids:
Young voters diverged sharply from the population as a whole, preferring Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin by 66% to 32% in the NEP. This is by far the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate... Thanks to George W. Bush, who crystallized the effect of conservatism on this country, there's a whole generation of truly progressive voters out there.
How important was the youth vote? Very:
18 percent times a 25 percent increase in the Democratic margin equals 4.5 points, or a majority of Obama's popular vote margin. Had the Democratic 18-29 vote stayed the same as 2004's already impressive percentage, Obama would have won by about 2 points, and would not have won 73 electoral votes from Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, or Indiana.
Turn out was expected to be huge and it was.
I didnâ€™t think this article from the National Review was very good, but it finished with a strong question:
Thankfully, all the decisive states in 2008 were won by large enough margins that no-one will attribute the outcome to possible voter registration fraud perpetrated by groups like ACORN. But that might not be the case next time. Can we agree we should solve this problem with effective protections against voter registration and voter fraud before a scandal tangles up a future election?
Rachel Maddow says long lines are like a poll tax. This year people felt an urgent need to vote, but how many elections in a row will they continue to wait in line for several hours. And when will we get voting machines we can trust?
Voting machines are still having the same issues they had in 2002.
I realized at some point that all of the currently reported problems--the vote-flipping, the long lines, the lack of audit trails, the security problems, the indifference (and, in some cases, belligerent incompetence) of local elections officials--are simply repeats of elections and primaries past. I could drag out ten or so articles from the 2002 midterms through the primaries of 2008, change only the dates, and we'd have a pretty good description of the present problems with early voting in this election.
What to do about voting problems?
Many of the states that allowed early voting this year experienced few delays on Election Day, and now federal election officials, lawmakers and voting experts say people in every state should have the same privilege.
This map specifically and this story in general should be giving the GOP nightmares as 78% of the counties in the country voted more Democratic this election than last. It's worth clicking through to check it out.
Sticking with 78% for a second, 78% of Jewish voters (more than Kerry got) voted for Obama. This entire election, it was a question in the media as to whether Jewish voters would vote for him. This answers that.
Democrats have won the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections.
Democrats have won the presidency in 3 of the last 5 presidential elections.
Democrats have increased their popular vote total in 7 of the last 7 presidential elections, while Republicans have done so in just 3 elections, staying flat once, and dropping 3 times.
I donâ€™t know why, but NC, MO, IN, and MT decided they wanted to be the center of attention this year, not declaring a winner for a while. MO took 2 weeks!
Deep in Red Red Red Alpharetta, GA, a mechanic with a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall says, â€œThat sonofabitch better win!â€ He was talking about Obama.
Tim Robbins had a voting nightmare. He was turned away from the polls and had to go to City Hall to clear things up.
One TPM reader did not vote for Obama, he voted for someone more important.
â€œKNOW. HOPE.â€ Read this one.
Voting stories from TPM and Salon:
To keep things moving they were directing people to the attached men's and women's bathroom to fill in their ballot. So I filled in my ballot in a bathroom sitting on the can. It was great to see that kind of voter turnout.
My husbandâ€™s former father-in-law, a truly horrid little man who uses the â€œNâ€ word with regularity and a forceful commitment to every nasty thing it represents, pulled the lever a few hours ago, in a dingy, struggling town in West Virginiaâ€¦for Barack Obama. Just something to feel a little bit in awe of as you sip your cocktail and wonder if tonight is going to be what we hope it will be.
This story is about the massive turnout and a 60 year old first time voter.
There were some voting problems across the country.
It was clear very quickly that he could not read. She helped him to make his choices. I couldnâ€™t help but overhear who was his choice. It was a great thing to see that he was so determined to vote.
A dark reminder for me of my family's past, she still has receipts for slaves that our family owned. My grandmother has voted Republican her entire life, but today she voted for Barack Obama.
Bill Moyers Journal
I guess Boston residents didnâ€™t feel like sharing.
My daughters are 13 and 15 like Obamaâ€™s and I wonder if they will ever understand what happened back then and what today means. Maybe they wonâ€™t and maybe thatâ€™s a good thing. Maybe itâ€™s even the point.
92 year old voting in an ambulance:
She arrived at her polling place on a gurney in an ambulance, where an election judge and support worker climbed aboard with an electronic voting machine and let her cast her ballot.
This was one of 7 sites open in the county for early voting last week. I drove past it last Friday thinking that, perhaps on the afternoon of Halloween the line would be short. It wrapped around the parking lot like one of those terrible Atlanta airport security checkpoint lines. So I waited to vote until today.
FiveThirtyEight.com exploded into everyoneâ€™s consciousness during the primaries by, time after time, coming as close as anyone to predicting the final turnout
Nate Silver, who runs FiveThirtyEight,works for Baseball Prospectus for his day job.
Mr. Silver recognized that people wanted to play politics like they played fantasy baseball, and pick apart poll numbers for themselves instead of waiting for an evening news anchor to interpret polls for them.
What does FiveThirtyEight's success mean?
It's another victory for sabermetrics, or at least the political equivalent.
Their final election projection of Obama 349 - McCain 189 was a little off, Obama won 365 â€“ 173.
Sullivan asks how good was 538?
The only state their model got wrong was Indiana, where they expected a narrow Obama loss. He won the state by a hair. Nate Silver owned this election on the polling front: one young guy with a background in baseball stats beat out the mainstream media in a couple of months. And he beat out the old web: I mean if you consider the total joke of Drudge's recent coverage and compare it with Silver's, you realize that the web is a brutal competitive medium where only the best survive - and they are only as good as their last few posts.
John Cole asks how good was 538?
This uncanny accuracy is the equivalent of dropping a penny from the top of a 50 story building and landing it in a shot glass. And not one of those double-shot sized ones, either.
2 years ago, SUSA polled 600 people in each state to determine who they would vote for between McCain and Obama. McCain won 510 Electoral Votes. Obama won 28.
Pollster.com was also one of the better sites to check out during the election. Whatâ€™s next for them?
We have plans to use our Flash charts to display a wider variety of poll data, including Barack Obama's favorable rating and, of course, his job rating as President once he takes office. We are also looking forward to tracking what both the "basic trends" that Charles Franklin charted earlier this week and the reactions that Pollsters will gather to the initiatives of the new Obama administration. Look for new charts and new data coming soon.
This chart shows the polling was generally pretty good, though it underestimated McCainâ€™s support in red states and Obamaâ€™s support in blue states. (Toss up states like NC and IN were almost right on)
Ten Reasons Why You Should Ignore Exit Polls
1. Exit polls have a much larger intrinsic margin for error than regular polls.
2. Exit polls have consistently overstated the Democratic share of the vote.
3. Exit polls were particularly bad in this year's primaries.
4. Exit polls challenge the definition of a random sample.
5. Democrats may be more likely to participate in exit polls.
6. Exit polls may have problems calibrating results from early voting.
7. Exit polls may also miss late voters.
8. "Leaked" exit poll results may not be the genuine article.
9. A high-turnout election may make demographic weighting difficult.
10. You'll know the actual results soon enough anyway.
Back to Original
Celebrate! - A run down of the celebrations.
WINS! - A list of 38 sites and their winning posts.
Winners and Losers - 18 lists of election winners and losers.
Turnout, Voting, and Polling - Articles and stories about voting, polling, and turn out.
Reactions - Reactions from the world, pundits, and celebrities.
How Obama Won - Some thoughts on how Obama won.
Why McCain Lost - Some thoughts on why McCain lost and what next for the GOP.
Expectations and Advice - There are a lot of people with expectations and a lot of people with advice.
Race - Obviously electing the first black president is going to bring up comments on race.
Money and Business - What will the impact on your money and you business be?
The Media - Without the media, wherever would we be!?
Humor - Without the humor, wherever would we be!?
Miscellaneous - Without the miscellaneous, wherever would we be!?
Personal Stories from Friends - Just what it says.
273 Status Political Status Messages in 27 Hours - Just what it says.
Via - Hereâ€™s a list of all the sites I used in putting this together â€“ the sources.