Number of ballots cast in CA increased significantly over 2006 levels; African American and Latino participation surged.
Nationwide, the 2010 midterm election experienced unusually high participation from older and wealthier voters who strongly favored Republican candidates. However, according to an analysis released today by the national voting rights group Project Vote, strong turnout in California, especially among minorities, helped propel the Democratic Party into a highly contested U.S. Senate seat and a sweep of the top offices in the state.
Two years ago, African Americans, lower-income Americans, and young Americans across the country participated in the 2008 presidential election in historic numbers. This November, however, these groups largely stayed home in most state elections, as did most Americans. Non-voters, the report shows, were the majority in 2010.
California, however, was an exception. The new analysis—based on exit poll data and preliminary results from the United States Election Project—includes state-specific data from several states, including California, and found that:
- The number of ballots cast for highest office in California increased by 19 percent over 2006 levels.
- African Americans almost doubled the number of ballots they cast in California compared to 2006.
- The number of ballots cast by Latinos in California increased by nearly 40 percent.
- The rate of participation growth by whites was below the statewide average at 10 percent.
- Lower income voters increased their participation in California, while those making over $100,000 decreased.
California, like the rest of the country, did see decreased turnout from younger voters, and an increase in participation by voters 65 and older.
Nationwide, the analysis by Dr. Lorraine Minnite showed that, while voting for the most part followed predictable historic trends for midterm elections, a few distinct features of the 2010 voting population stand out, which contributed to the results:
- Across the country, 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.
- The number of ballots cast by Americans from households making over $200,000 a year increased by 68 percent compared to 2006.
- 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.
- Women—already one of the most reliable voting groups—increased their share of the electorate, and significantly increased their support of the Republican Party.
- 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
SOURCE Project Vote
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