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Project Vote Releases New Analysis of Who Voted (and Who Didn't) in 2010 Print E-mail

NOVEMBER 24, 2010 - Washington, DC

While the 2008 electorate was the most diverse in American history, and voters gave the majority of their votes to Democrats, the 2010 midterm election experienced unusually high participation from older and wealthier voters who strongly favored Republican candidates, according to a new analysis released today by Project Vote.

Two years ago, African Americans, lower-income Americans, and young Americans participated in the 2008 presidential election in historic numbers. This November, however, these groups largely stayed home, as did most Americans.  According to the new memo by Dr. Lorraine Minnite, “non-voters were the majority in 2010,” a fact that “throws cold water on any victor’s claims for a mandate.”

The new analysis—based on exit poll data and preliminary results from the United States Election Project—found that turnout in 2010 was similar to 2006, and followed patterns typical of midterm elections. Absent a national race to galvanize new and minority voters, fewer voters turnout and the populations that do vote tend to be older. The racial composition of the population that voted in 2010 closely mirrored that of 2006: eighty percent of voters were white, ten percent were black, eight percent Latino, and two percent Asian.

However, several distinct features of the 2010 voting population stand out, and contributed to the results on November 2:

1.     Senior citizens turned out in force, with the number of ballots cast by voters over 65 increasing by 16 percent. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. resident population, Americans in this age group constituted 21 percent of 2010 voters. This age group also significantly increased their support of Republican candidates, from 49 percent in 2006 to 59 percent in 2010.

2.    The number of ballots cast by Americans from households making over $200,000 a year increased by 68 percent compared to 2006.

3.     Relative to 2008, minority and youth voters dropped out of the voting population at higher rates than whites, undoing much of the gain in demographic parity achieved in 2008.

4.     Women—already one of the most reliable voting groups—increased their share of the electorate, and significantly increased their support of the Republican Party.

5.     Bucking the national trends, Latinos increased their share of the voting population in several states, saving at least three Senate seats for the Democrats.

“It is fair to say that 2010 was the year of older, rich people,” Dr. Minnite writes in the study.

“As in most midterm elections, the people who voted in 2010 were not really representative of the American people,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. “This study raises serious questions about which constituencies candidates choose to court and engage as they look ahead to 2012, since the electorate, as a whole, is shifting away from the views and values of the older, wealthier white conservatives who dominated the 2010 election.”

To read the full research memo, go to http://www.projectvote.org/images/publications/2010Electorate.pdf

 

 

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