Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History
II. Growing Diversity Among Eligible Voters
Population growth among Latinos, blacks and Asians between 2004 and 2008 changed the demographic composition of eligible voters. In 2008, while nearly three-quarters of all eligible voters were white (73.4%), a record share were non-white (26.6%). Overall, there were 206 million eligible voters in 2008.6
- Latinos increased their share of eligible voters from 8.2% in 2004 to 9.5% in 2008, an increase of 1.3 percentage points. In 2008, 19.5 million Hispanics were eligible to vote, up from 16.1 million in 2004.
- The number of Latino eligible voters increased 21.4% between 2004 and 2008, the large
- The number of Latino eligible voters grew faster between 2004 and 2008 than the growth in the adult Latino population overall – 21.4% versus 13.7%.
- Blacks increased their share of eligible voters from 11.6% in 2004 to 11.8% in 2008. Overall, 24.3 million blacks were eligible to vote in 2008, up from 22.9 million in 2004.
- The number of black eligible voters increased 6.4% between 2004 and 2008, second only to Latinos.
- The share of eligible voters who were Asian increased from 3.3% in 2004 to 3.4% in 2008. There were 6.9 million Asian eligible voters in 2008, up from 6.5 million in 2004.
- The number of Asian eligible voters increased 5.9% between 2004 and 2008.
- The share of eligible voters who were white fell from 75.2% in 2004 to 73.4% in 2008. More than 151 million whites were eligible to vote in 2008, up from 148.2 million in 2004.
- The number of white eligible voters increased 2.1% between 2004 and 2008.
- The share of eligible voters who are under 30 also increased between 2004 and 2008. Young people ages 18 to 29 represented 21.4% of eligible voters in 2008, up from 20.9% in 2004 (Kirby and Kawashima-Ginsberg, 2009).
- Estimates of the number of eligible voters are likely overestimates because among those who are ages 18 or older and who are U.S. citizens, some are prohibited from voting in some states. This group includes felons or those who are mentally disabled (McDonald and Popkin, 2001). ↩