Overall voter turnout lower than 2008

Voters cast their ballots in the general election at Ridgecrest Elementary, in Hyattsville, Md. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A drop in voter turnout in Tuesday’s election didn’t keep President Barack Obama from winning a second term in the White House.

Preliminary figures suggest fewer people voted this year than four years ago, when voters shattered turnout records as they elected Obama to his first term.

In most states, the numbers are shaping up to be even lower than in 2004, said Curtis Gans, the director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Still, the full picture may not be known for weeks, because much of the counting takes place after Election Day.

“By and large, people didn’t show up,” Gans said.

In Texas, turnout for the presidential race dropped almost 11 percent from 2008. Vermont and South Carolina saw declines that were almost as large. The drop-off was more than 7 percent in Maryland, where voters approved a ballot measure allowing gay marriage.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press figures showed more than 117 million people had voted in the White House race, but that number will go up as more votes are counted. In 2008, 131 million people voted, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Experts calculate turnout in different ways based on who they consider eligible voters. A separate, preliminary estimate from George Mason University’s Michael McDonald put the 2012 turnout rate at 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure was expected to be revised as more precincts reported and absentee votes were counted.

The biggest plunge by far, according to the American University analysis, came in Eastern Seaboard states still reeling from the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, which wiped out power for millions and disrupted usual voting routines. Fifteen percent fewer voters cast ballots in New York this year than in 2008. In New Jersey, it was almost 12 percent. The gap in New Jersey could narrow in the coming days because elections officials have given displaced residents in some areas until Friday to cast special email ballots.

Best efforts be darned, making it to the polls in the wake of Sandy may have simply been too much for some affected voters. In Hoboken, N.J., Anthony Morrone said he’s never missed a vote — until now.

“No time, no time to vote, too much to do,” said Morrone, 76, as he surveyed the exterior of his home: a pile of junked refrigerators, a car destroyed by flooding and a curbside mountain of waterlogged debris.

In other areas not affected by the storm, a host of factors could have contributed to waning voter enthusiasm, Gans said. The 2012 race was one of the nastiest in recent memory, leaving many voters feeling turned off. With Democrats weary from a difficult four years and Republicans splintered by a divisive primary, neither party was particularly enthused about their own candidate. Stricter voting restrictions adopted by many states may also have kept some voters away from the polls.

“Beyond the people with passion, we have a disengaged electorate,” Gans said. “This was a very tight race, there were serious things to be decided.”

Decided they were — by the millions of voters who, in many cases, braved all kinds of inconveniences to make sure their voices were heard.

Some voters in South Carolina’s Richland County waited more than four hours to cast their votes, and leaders from both parties blamed the delays on broken voting machines. Officials in Virginia and New Hampshire reported many voters were still waiting to vote when polls closed in the evening. In major battleground states like Ohio and Florida, lines snaked back and forth as voters waited patiently to cast their ballots.

“I’ve been waiting for four years to cast this vote,” said Robert Dan Perry, 64, as he cast his vote for Romney in Zebulon, N.C.

Both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made voter turnout a top priority in the waning days of an intensely close race. But for months leading up to Election Day, both candidates were obsessed with that tiny sliver of undecided voters.

It may be that those who were still undecided Tuesday decided just not to show up, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“Everyone was talking about how the Democrats are unenthusiastic and the Republicans are fired up,” Kondik said. “It sounds like that was all talk.”

One bright spot in this year’s voting was the number of early and mail-in ballots cast. Before polls opened on Election Day, more than 32 million people had voted, either by mail or in person, in 34 states and the District of Columbia. In a number of states, including Iowa, Maryland and Montana, early voting appeared to far exceed totals from 2008.

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Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Zebulon, N.C., and Samantha Henry in Hoboken, N.J., contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

Voters don’t expect much from a GOP Congress

Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner: New boss, same as the old boss (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The voters who turned control of the House of Representatives to Republicans say they don’t expect much from a GOP Congress.

Two polls say voters show little excitement about a Republican-led Congress. In a Pew Research Center poll, only 48 percent express any happiness or excitement about Republican leadership — a sharp contrast to the 60 percent who said they were happy about Democrats taking over just four years ago.

A CBS poll shows even more doom and gloom. Only 40 percent of those questioned said they expected anything from Republican leadership.

Both polls confirm what others have suggested: Voters just wanted to get rid of Democrats on Election Day and since the only choice in most cases were Republicans, they voted for the party of the elephant without an expectation that things would get better.

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Independents, seniors said ‘no’ to Democrats

Ginger Bailey of Salt Lake City votes as her twin one-year-old sons, Austin Bailey, front, and Tristan Bailey, back, wait at a library Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

Independents and people 65 and older are two pivotal voting blocs neither party can afford to lose. Right now, Democrats have alienated both.

As attention begins to shift to the 2012 presidential and congressional races, President Barack Obama and Democrats must figure out how to woo both groups back to avoid a replay of Tuesday’s Republican triumph. Exit polls of voters in the congressional elections show the damage Democrats must repair — 56 percent of independents and 59 percent of seniors voted for Republican House candidates, with each delivering decisive margins of roughly 20 percentage points for the GOP.

For seniors, a group that takes voting seriously, Obama’s health care overhaul legislation was a driving issue. Fifty-three percent said the measure should be repealed — and almost all of this group backed Republican House candidates on Election Day. Among all voters who are younger, 46 percent want the law revoked.

Voters over 65 were also the likeliest age group to consider themselves tea party supporters, with almost half — 49 percent — saying they back the conservative movement. Nine in 10 of them voted Republican on Tuesday.

Independents seemed especially upset with Obama and took it out on Democrats, voting Republican for the first time since 1998. Over half said the president’s policies will hurt the country, and independents saying their vote represented opposition to Obama more than doubled those saying they were signaling support for him.

Independents were a bit likelier than all voters to say the government should intrude less on decisions by people and businesses. About 8 in 10 of them rated the government’s performance negatively, somewhat more than voters did overall.

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At a time when large numbers of voters are disaffected with American institutions, Republicans did a better job than Democrats of retaining the loyalties of people who could barely stand them.

Almost 1 in 4 votes for Republican candidates, or 23 percent, came from people who rate the GOP unfavorably. Democrats got about 1 in 8 votes, or 12 percent, from people who had negative views of that party.

Republicans were also likelier than Democrats to try flashing a message about Obama. About two-thirds of GOP voters said they considered their vote a show of opposition to Obama. Only half of Democrats considered their votes a message of support for the president.

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More than 9 in 10 GOP voters gave the federal government negative grades — not a surprise for the party that has been out of power for two years. But the party that has run Washington since January 2009 wasn’t warm and fuzzy about the government either. Just over half — 53 percent — of Democratic voters voiced dissatisfaction or anger about how the government is working.

More than 8 in 10 GOP voters said the government should intrude less in people’s and businesses’ decisions. About two-thirds of Democrats want it to do more to solve problems.

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The two parties also showed differing priorities for the next two years.

Highlighting the country’s split over Obama’s health care overhaul, almost 8 in 10 Republican voters want to repeal the measure. A roughly equal share of Democrats want to expand it or leave it in place.

Almost 6 in 10 Democratic voters want Congress to focus first on spending to create jobs, making it easily their first priority. Tops for GOP voters: Nearly half want to cut the budget deficit.

Nearly two-thirds of Republican voters want to continue Bush-era tax cuts for everyone, including couples earning more than $250,000 yearly. Only about 1 in 8 Democrats favored that. More than three-quarters of them would rather let tax cuts expire for the rich but renew them for everyone else, or let them all lapse.

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Where did Tuesday’s votes come from? The two parties went about that differently, too.

More than a third of GOP votes came from the South, the most Republican-friendly region of the country by far. Democrats’ votes came in near equal proportions from the East, Midwest, South and West.

Republican voters were divided 50-50 by gender. Women accounted for 56 percent of Democrats’ votes.

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The results are from a survey that Edison Research conducted for The Associated Press and television networks with 18,132 voters nationwide. This included interviews with 16,531 voters Tuesday in a random sample of 268 precincts nationally. In addition, landline and cellular telephone interviews were conducted Oct. 22-31 with 1,601 people who voted early or absentee. There is a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1 percentage point for the entire sample, higher for subgroups.

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AP Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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Early voting report – Illinois

Wow, what a pleasant surprise. In my town of 19,000 (with its 2,187 churches and 2 bars) the voting has been fast and furious. I voted yesterday, expecting to pop in city hall, and get back to work.  Nope.  There were 25-30 people ahead of me, waiting for one of four booths. The pleasant voting clerk was advising people after me that the wait was more than an hour.  (it turned out to be 1.5 hours)  Yet, every time she mentioned the wait, PEOPLE STAYED AND VOTED.

The idea that there was some enthusiasm gap is clearly a media concoction, and bears no relationship to reality. People were not only excited to vote, they were determined to vote.

What was even more surprising was the discussions I overheard. This is the reddest part of Cook County, the largest county in Illinois. People supported McCain almost 2-1 here in 2008. Yet, it seemed that people were voting Democratic at the same pace as Republican, a major shift to the left. Reports from the South Side of Chicago also show extremely strong turnouts from Chicago’s black wards.

In a year where a deluded, misinformed and certifiably crazy Sharron Angle seems to be winning in Nevada, where a raving lunatic like Rand Paul can survive his gestapo beating up and stomping on Move.On members, and where Eric Canter (R-Va)  gets the local police to arrest Democrats at open house meetings – for the crime of being Democrats, it was easy to predict that Democrats and liberals would be demoralized. Add to that, every MSM was proclaiming a blowout by the GOP, and repeatedly claimed that the Democrats had no interest in this election. Perhaps, if only they had  stayed on that message longer and louder, they could have turned off people from this election.   Then again, the presence of Tea Baggery  has had several impacts on this year’s election.

First, it mobilized  a group of functionally illiterate, unread, misinformed, and willfully ignorant christian conservatives.

Second, Tea Baggers forced an already rabid GOP even further to the reich. Right. Whatever.

Next, The noise and constant free coverage that MSM provided the Tea Baggery movement also shook up someone else. Like the undecideds, the liberals, the progressives. Seeing just how insane, ludicrous, and ignorant the Tea Buggery movement is was one hell of an incentive for voting this year. We owe them all a vote of thanks.

Voting is important, even when, no, make that especially when the US Supremes foolishly lifted the cap on corporate interference in our political system. Citizens United will go down as being one the worst decisions made by any Supreme Court, following closely on the heels of Dred Scott.

Not only does the Citizens United decision make a screwed up system even worse, not only does it invite the wholesale purchase of desperate politicians, and not only does this decision allow one large corporation to have a voice a million times stronger than any individual, CU also shows that corruption in our political system does not stop in congress, but exists just as much in our Supreme Court.

Get out the Vote, folks. It is important. Vitally important.

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More bad poll news for Democrats

Obama: Is he leading Democrats to disaster? (AP)

Memo to Democrats: There’s trouble in Potomac City and that starts with “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for “polls.”

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds more and more independents turning their backs on Democrats and looking for salvation on the Republican side of the political fence.

The poll shows 38 percent of self-described independents saying they will vote for Republicans in this year’s mid-term elections while just 30 percent lean Democratic. Four years ago, 40 percent of independents liked Democrats and just 24 percent favored Republicans.

In head-to-head, Democrat vs. Republican questions, a clear majority of 56 percent favor Republicans and only 36 percent Democrats. That’s a growing split that spells bad news for the party of the jackass.

But Republicans share an obstacle with Democrats: A strong anti-incumbent feeling among angry voters. The approval rating of Congress is down to 21 percent.

Republicans, however, benefit more from voter anger against the Democratic leadership Congress and what they see as the lackluster performance of President Barack Obama. The poll numbers aren’t so much an endorsement of Republican policies as they are a rejection of Democrats.

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Tea Party hurts Republicans at ballot box

Warning to Republicans. The Tea Party could cost you election victories in November.

A new poll shows that while the GOP leads Democrats in many Congressional districts, that lead would not be enough to overcome votes siphoned away if a Tea Party candidate is on the ballot.

A Quinnipiac University polls shows 44 percent of voters would vote for a Republican over a Democrat in this year’s midterm election, compared to 39 percent for Democrats — a sure sign of a Republican resurgence.

That’s the good news.

But, if a Tea Party candidate shows up on the ballot, the Democrat wins by a 36 to 25 percent margin while the Tea Party interloper pulls 15.

The poll show the Tea Party pulls votes away from Republicans, not Democrats. Like most fringe movements, the Tea Party is not mainstream.  Only 13 percent of American voters claim they are part of the movement.

Republicans are understandably nervous over the unpredictable and volatile Tea Party followers and have mixed feelings about trying to bring the group into the party.

In the poll, 74 percent of Tea Party supporters said they are Republican or independents who lean Republican, while 16 percent claim they are Democrats or independents who lean Democratic.

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