US voter turnout didn't set record
The numbers have been tabulated, and it turns out that voter turnout was actually far lower than analysts had expected in this past US presidential election. Though the turnout was greater than in 2000 and 2004, it failed to beat the record set in the 1964 election. It is thought that the high number of Republicans who stayed home accounts for the lower-than-expected number.
Turnout in last week's election increased from four years ago but fell far short of some forecasts largely because many Republican voters either stayed home or left blank the presidential section of their ballots.
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In states won by President-elect Barack Obama, turnout was more than five percentage points higher than in states won by Republican John McCain, according to a Globe analysis of data compiled by a pair of researchers who study voting patterns in US elections.
Both Curtis Gans, director of American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate, and Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University, have conducted state-by-state reviews of unofficial returns, which are still being tabulated in many states. Each had predicted significantly higher turnout than materialized on Election Day.
"I looked at the significant increase in registration and the long lines at the early-voting polling places," said Gans, who has been studying turnout rates for 36 years. "It turned out the intensity was one-sided; it was on the Democrats' side."
McDonald concurred, saying, "It became more evident to voters at the end that Barack Obama was going to win. That probably tamped down the turnout and disproportionately affected the Republicans."