Michael McDonald, the George Mason professor whose minute-by-minute reports on early voting were so valuable, has a look at what turn-out was like last November:
Barack Obama’s race was one of the major themes of the 2008 presidential election. The CPS 2008 CVAP turnout rates by race indicate that the Black, non-Hispanic turnout rate of 65.2% just barely fell shy of the White, non-Hispanic turnout rate of 66.1%. Still, Black turnout increased 4.9 percentage points from 2004, while White turnout decreased by 1.1 percentage points. This increasing Black turnout rate is consistent with the media’s exit polls that showed that Blacks were an increasing share of the electorate, increasing from 11% in 2004 to 13% in 2008. The Hispanic CPS turnout rate also increased by 2.7 percentage points, but still lags far behind other racial groups.[….]
Another major theme arising out of the 2008 election was the surge in youth voting. There is indeed evidence that youth turnout increased relative to older persons. The CPS turnout rate for citizens age 18-29 increased 2.1 percentage points between 2004 and 2008 while all other age categories experienced a decline. Despite this relative increase, youth turnout continues to lag behind all other age categories by sizable margins. The good news is that there is some evidence that youth turnout is catching up in the last two presidential elections.
When it comes to politics, demographics is destiny. If today’s 18-30 age group continues to be a politically-engaged, heavily Democratic group throughout their lives, it will mark a real sea change in American politics. A big increase in Latino turn-out would make a large impact as well.