Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Has Barack Obama had a lasting effect on our election participation?

Has Barack Obama had a lasting effect on our election participation?

The Census Bureau has released data that shows the turnout in the 2008 election was up by about five million voters over 2004. That increases include an increase of 2 million black and Hispanic voters along with 600,000 Asians voters. The number of white voters remained nearly even with 2004. Voter turnout between 18 and 24 increased by two percent. The turn our among young black increased by about eight percent.

The data from the Census can be found here.

This increase in turnout is a great shift for American elections. This change will broaden our discussion to policy and make marginal voice louder in the ears of politicians.

It is proper to assume that Barack Obama was the catalyst of the increase in turnout. But will this Obama Effect be long lasting? Will the new voters which Mr. Obama brought into the voting booth stay in the voting booth?

I hope the Obama Effect is permanent and growing. The first indication of the power of this effect will be the congressional elections of 2010. The turnout for the 2008 presidential election was nearly 62% nationwide and the 2004 turnout was about 60%. While turnout in past seven midterm elections was only 38 percent and 42 percent the 2004 midterm was only 40 percent. If that spread between president election and midterm narrows in 2010 we could have an indication of Barack Obama's impact on our elections.

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