In this memorandum, we assess demographic shifts that took place in the 2008 general election compared to the 2004 general election. While analysis to date has largely commented on the relatively unremarkable increase in the overall number of votes cast, the data presented below suggest that the voting population on Election Day was significantly different -- if not significantly larger -- than in the last presidential election.
While it should be noted that the data available at this point, so soon after the election, allow for only a preliminary assessment, we find that votes cast by Americans of color in 2008 increased by 21 percent from 2004, based on a review of exit polling and preliminary administrative data. Votes cast by Americans ages 18-29 increased by 9 percent. Votes cast by whites in 2008 declined slightly compared to 2004.
Overall, the available data indicate that the composition of the 2008 voting population was markedly different from 2004, even though the overall numbers of voters who cast ballots did not increase significantly.
In the following pages we present and interpret election data from the US as a whole, as well as from seven battleground states: Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico.