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.
As part of Project Vote's ongoing effort to keep you informed about the
changing landscape of election legislation, we are pleased to provide
the first installment this year in our ongoing Election Legislation Threats and Opportunities series.
With the 2012 election looming large, there has been a flurry of
interest in reshaping election administration across the country.
Consequently, many of these efforts are rooted in partisan politics
rather than designed to make substantial improvements to the system.
Voter ID, restrictions on voter registration drives, and even the
revocation of existing progressive election policies are all being
dramatically fought out on the state level.
Project Vote Communications Manager Erin Ferns Lee has
been carefully monitoring election legislation in all 50 states. This
memo assesses both the threats and opportunities represented by election
reforms that have gained significant support in state legislatures so
far in 2011, based on discussions with state-based advocates, recent
media coverage, and the partisan makeup of the legislatures and state
You can download this new memo here.
DOJ Enforces the NVRA Against Rhode Island
Today the Department of Justice announced that a settlement has been reached in the first suit brought under the Obama administration to enforce the public agency voter registration provisions of the NVRA. The DOJ sued Rhode Island public assistance, WIC, rehabilitative services, developmental disabilities services and mental health services offices, as well as the Rhode Island Secretary of State and the Rhode Island Board of Elections, for failing to enforce and comply with Section 7 of the NVRA. NVRA Section 7 requires public assistance offices and disability offices to offer voter registration services to every client that applies for benefits, renews benefits, or changes his or her address. Read the DOJ’s press release on the lawsuit here.
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