In Context

On November 4, 2008, a presidential election day, 64 percent of American citizens 18 and older went to the polls, a percentage relatively unchanged from the 2004 presidential election.

Turnout rates varied among different populations:

  • Minority populations made up almost one quarter of voters.
  • Among blacks ages 18 to 24, turnout increased by 8 percent to 55 percent.
  • Relatively unchanged from 2004, voter turnout rates for women exceeded voter turnout rates for men--66 percent to 62 percent, respectively.
  • There was a 69 percent voter turnout for ages 45 to 65, 70 percent for ages 65 and older and 49 percent of those aged 18 to 24.
  • The highest voting rate was the 66 percent in the Midwest, while the rates for the West, Northeast and South averaged 53 percent.
  • 77 percent of American citizens with bachelor's degrees voted, compared with 55 percent of those who had only a high school diploma or a GED.
  • 70 percent of veterans voted, whereas 63 percent of non-veterans did.

Caption: Armstrong after he voted in the 2008 election
Credit: Photo still from The Barber of Birmingham

» ABC News. "Young Black Turnout a Record in 2008 Election."
» Pew Research Center. "Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History."
» Roberts, Sam. "2008 Surge in Black Voters Nearly Erased Racial Gap. The New York Times, July 20, 2009.
» United States Census Bureau. "Voter Turnout Increases by 5 Million in 2008 Presidential Election, U.S. Census Bureau Reports."
» United States Census Bureau. "Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008."