Turnout

TURNOUT…. Under the circumstances, this was expected to be a very high turnout year for the presidential election. But how high was it?

More than 130 million people turned out to vote Tuesday, the most ever to vote in a presidential election.

With ballots still being counted in some precincts into Wednesday morning, an estimated 64 percent of the electorate turned out, making 2008 the highest percentage turnout in generations.

In 2004, 122.3 million voted in what was then the highest recorded turnout in the contest between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

The key here is the percentage of the voting-age population. The number of ballots cast is interesting, but as the population grows, it stands to reason that the number will keep going up.

But as 64% turnout rate is a very big deal. According to this Wiki entry, turnout four years ago was about 56%, and that was considered a pretty good year. More notably, turnout was 63% in the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and that was the high watermark of the modern political era.

If 64% is the final number, where would that put the 2008 race historically? According to a Wall Street Journal item, we’re talking about “the biggest voter turnout in the period since women got the vote in 1920.”

For all the talk in recent years about voter apathy and laziness, it’s a turnout rate to be proud of.