A little preliminary number crunching on the final 2008 Presidential Election returns yields some fascinating results.
Overall voter turnout was DOWN one per cent from 2004. (From 121 million votes cast for the top two candidates to 119 million for the top two candidates. In each year, other candidates accounted for one per cent of the vote).
Update: Here's an article that says I may be wrong in that statement:
" It looks like about 133.3 million people voted for president, based on preliminary results from the country's precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots, said Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Using his methods, that would give 2008 a 62.5% turnout rate, he said" (from November 5, 2008 Wall Street Journal online).
An ABC poll showed in October showed that first time voters (mostly age 18 to 29) broke 3 to 1 for Obama, but stayed at 13 per cent of all registered voters. That means 11.7 million new voters went for Obama, and 3.8 million went for McCain, an 8 million vote margin for Obama.
Among voters who also voted in 2004, McCain had about 52.4 million votes to Obama's 51.9 million. Adding the two together gave Obama 63.6 million votes to McCain's 56.2 million votes.
15.6% of Bush's 2004 votes either died or just didn't show up for McCain, in contrast to the lower 12% of Kerry's 2004 votes who either died or just didn't show up for Obama.
The moral of the story ?
Republicans need to focus on changing the minds of 2008 first time voters in the 2012 cycle AND need to focus on the upcoming 2012 first time voters. That's where the opportunity for improvement lies.