Monday, November 4, 2013

Who Was the Last President to Outpoll Non-Voters?

Many of you probably either read or read about Russell Brand's manifesto in the center-left British magazine New Statesman. One thing that irked me about the piece was Brand's disregard for voting--his refusal to do it and his encouragement of others not to vote as well. If Brand was disgusted with the Labour Party after Tony Blair hollowed it out, he could have voted for the Greens. The UK Greens, like the Greens in the US, are not a large party, but they do exist. I don't know where Brand is registered, so I can't analyze the particular candidates from which he had to choose; however, not all Labourites are Blairites.

In the 2010 general election in the UK, only 65% of the population showed up to vote. That missing 35% could have helped usher in a Labour-Lib Dem coalition instead of a Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Would a Labour-Lib Dem coalition be perfect? No. Would it be better than the current coalition? Yes. If the Greens managed to get enough votes, you could have even had a traffic light coalition (green-yellow-red).

Looking at turnout numbers got me thinking about elections here in the U.S., considering how low are turnout rates always are. And that led to the titular question of this diary:

Who was the last president to outpoll non-voters?

We'll work backwards to find the answer.

In determining this, I decided to use "voting age population" (VAP) rather than "voting eligible population" (VEP) because the former is more readily available for elections from many decades past. I used the turnout numbers provided by the American Presidency Project. Professor Michael McDonald of GMU has analyzed the relationship between the two turnout measures, and his graph shows that they began to diverge in the 1980s. Using the voting age population (which includes non-citizen residents, those barred from voting because of criminal history, etc.) as the denominator will deflate the turnout percentage a bit--but not enough to significantly affect our findings.

In the last election, voter turnout was only 53.6%. That means that, of the voting age population (VAP), 46.4% did not vote, 27.4% voted for Obama, and 25.3% voted for Romney. That's right. All of that media coverage and money, and Obama didn't even get the votes of 30% of the voting age population (or, if you check, the voting eligible population).

According to the the data from here and here, Minnesota and Wisconsin were the only states in which both candidates outpolled non-voters among the voting age population. Obama also outpolled non-voters among the voting age populations of DC, Iowa, Maine, and New Hampshire. Both Obama and Romney outpolled non-voters among the voting eligible population of Colorado. Obama also outpolled nonvoters among the voting eligible populations of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont; Romney, Iowa and New Hampshire.

......Continued over at the Daily Kos

No comments:

Post a Comment