voters played a decisive role in the 2008 election, according to a new research
memorandum by Project Vote Research Director Lorraine Minnite. In First-Time
Voters in the 2008 Election, Minnite finds that new voters accounted
for 12 percent of the votes cast in 2008, and that they voted for Obama over
McCain by slightly more than two-to-one. In all, first-time voters cast an estimated 10 million ballots
for Obama, comprising 15 percent of vote total.
Just as significantly, the composition of the new voter electorate shifted along
race/ethnicity and class lines in 2008, compared to 2004. The percentage of blacks and Latinos voting for the first time increased in 2008.
Minnite finds that the most significant relative increase, however, occurred
along class lines. She writes
“First time voting among the lowest income group, those with annual family
income of $15,000 a year or less, nearly doubled in proportion among all voters
in this income category, from 18 percent in 2004, to 34 percent in 2008.”
As Congress and the president negotiate over the federal budget—which, in
almost any form, promises to include reduced funding for education, health, and
social services—it is interesting to look at the policy preferences among these
new voters who arguably gave Obama his presidency.
Project Vote’s survey of the 2008 electorate finds that individuals who voted
for the first time in 2008 strongly favor an active role for government in
ensuring economic fairness and educational opportunity
Minnite also notes “across an array of economic issues, new
voters trust government more than the private sector to address or remedy
Read the complete report here.