April 30, 2009

Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History

III. Voter Turnout Rates

Voter Participation by Race and Ethnicity

Voter turnout rates among black, Latino and Asian eligible voters were higher in 2008 than in 2004. White eligible voters still have the highest turnout rates overall, but in 2008 turnout rates for whites fell slightly compared with 2004. Overall, the voter turnout rate among all eligible voters in 2008 was 63.6%.

Voter Participation Among Women and Men, by Race and Ethnicity

Female eligible voters participated in the 2008 election at a higher rate than male eligible voters—65.7% versus 61.5%. Nearly 10 million more women voted than men.7 Overall, for the first time, black female eligible voters cast ballots at the highest rate among all voters.

Voter Participation Among Younger Voters

Voter participation among young people was higher in 2008 than in 2004—51.1% versus 49.0%. More than 2 million more young people ages 18 to 29 voted in 2008 than in 2004 (Kirby and Kawashima-Ginsberg, 2009). Among young eligible voters, blacks had the highest turnout rate at 58.2%—a historic first.

  1. According to Pew Research Center tabulations from the November 2008 Current Population Survey, Voting and Registration Supplement, 70.4 million women voted in 2008, compared with 60.7 million men.