Category Archives: Elections

Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, July 2009

From the press release:
About 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million from 2004, according to a new table package released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained statistically unchanged.

Additionally, voters 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004. Blacks had the highest turnout rate among 18- to 24-year-old voters — 55 percent, an 8 percent increase from 2004. The increased turnout among certain demographic groups was offset by stagnant or decreased turnout among other groups, causing overall 2008 voter turnout to remain statistically unchanged — at 64 percent — from 2004.

The NVRA at Fifteen: A Report to Congress

Source: Estelle H. Rogers, Project Vote, 2009

From the press release:
Signed into law by President Clinton in May of 1993, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) was hailed by some as “the final achievement of the 1960’s voting rights revolution,” and proponents estimated that it would add 50 million Americans to the voting rolls. However, in a comprehensive new report released today by Project Vote, The NVRA at Fifteen: A Report to Congress, voting rights attorney Estelle Rogers finds that lack of enforcement, failures of state and federal leadership, and restrictive court decisions have left the full potential of the NVRA unrealized, and have left millions of disenfranchised Americans still awaiting the promise of a truly inclusive democracy.

Victory And The Promise Of Reform: Labor And The 2008 Election

Source: Donald W. Beachler, WorkingUSA, Volume 12 Issue 2, June 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Unions worked very hard to elect Barack Obama in 2008. Labor leaders made a concerted effort to counter defections to Republican John McCain among white workers, who some commentators predicted would be reluctant to vote for an African-American candidate. Obama received 59 percent of the vote from those residing in union households. This was precisely the share of the labor vote won by the Democratic presidential nominee in 1996, 2000, and 2004. The Obama victory and expanded Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate enhanced the prospects for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This legislation would facilitate union organizing in the U.S. Despite Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches, the ferocious opposition to EFCA by business interests made it difficult to predict the fate of EFCA in early 2009.

Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History

Source: Mark Hugo Lopez, Paul Taylor, PEW Research Center Report, April 30, 2009

The electorate in last year’s presidential election was the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, with nearly one-in-four votes cast by non-whites, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center.1 The nation’s three biggest minority groups–blacks, Hispanics and Asians–each accounted for unprecedented shares of the presidential vote in 2008.

2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections

Source: R. Michael Alvarez, Stephen Ansolabehere, Adam Berinsky, Gabriel Lenz, Charles Stewart III, Thad Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 2009

From the press release:
As many as three million registered voters did not cast a ballot in the 2008 General Election due to voter registration problems, suggests a survey cited today by Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States in testimony before the Subcommittee on Elections of the Committee on House Administration. The problem was most acute for younger voters and registered voters who moved less than a year ago, one in four of whom said that a problem with their registration was a major reason why they did not cast a ballot.
See also:
No Time To Vote: Challenges Facing America’s Overseas Military Voters

MAPLight.org

Source: MAPLight.org, 2009

MAPLight.org, a groundbreaking public database, illuminates the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes in unprecedented ways. Elected officials collect large sums of money to run their campaigns, and they often pay back campaign contributors with special access and favorable laws.

This common practice is contrary to the public interest, yet legal. MAPLight.org makes money/vote connections transparent, to help citizens hold their legislators accountable.

The Database

MAPLight.org combines three data sets:

* Bill texts and legislative voting records
* Supporting and opposing interests for each bill
* Campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics

Combining this data makes visible key information that could never before be determined easily. For example:

* Contributions given by interests supporting and opposing each bill
* Average donations given to legislators voting Yes and No on each bill
* Timeline of contributions and votes for each bill, graphically identifying when legislators received large donations before or after their vote.

Voters Win with Election Day Registration

Source: Stuart Comstock-Gay Steven Carbo Regina M. Eaton, Dēmos, January 28, 2009

Election Day Registration States Outpaced Others In Turnout By 7 %

Election Day Registration (EDR), sometimes called “same day registration,” allows eligible voters to register and cast a ballot on Election Day. By counteracting arbitrary voter registration deadlines, EDR greatly enhances the opportunity for Americans to participate in the electoral process and cast a ballot that will be properly counted.

States with EDR have consistently boasted turnout rates 10 to 12 percentage points higher than states that do not offer Election Day Registration.

This report shows that EDR was widely successful in the 2008 Presidential Election. Voter turnout in the nine states that allow people to register and vote on the same day was, on average, seven percentage points higher than states without EDR.

Do Community-Based Voter Mobilization Campaigns Work Even in Battleground States? Evaluating the Effectiveness Of MoveOn’s 2004 Outreach Campaign

Source: Joel A. Middleton and Donald P. Green, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 3, 2008

From the abstract:
One of the hallmarks of the 2004 presidential election was the unusual emphasis on face-to-face voter mobilization, particularly face-to-face mobilization conducted within neighborhoods or social networks. Unlike previous studies of face-to-face voter mobilization, which have focused largely on nonpartisan campaigns conducted during midterm or local elections, this study assesses the effects of a campaign organized by MoveOn.org, an organization that allied itself with the Democratic Party in 2004 to aid presidential candidate John Kerry. A regression discontinuity analysis of 46,277 voters from 13 swing states demonstrates that neighbor-to-neighbor mobilization substantially increased turnout among target voters during the 2004 presidential election. Contact with MoveOn volunteers increased turnout by approximately nine percentage-points. This finding corroborates experimental findings showing the effectiveness of door-to-door canvassing but contradicts results suggesting that such mobilization is ineffective in the context of high-salience elections.

To “Re-Hatch” Public Employees or Not? An Ethical Analysis of the Relaxation of Restrictions on Political Activities in Civil Service

Source: James S. Bowman and Jonathan P. West, Public Administration Review, Vol. 69 no. 1, January/February 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines the ethical content of legislation regulating the political activities of civil servants. The analysis is done using the “ethics triangle,” a tool that encompasses the interdependence of results-based utilitarian ethics, rule-based duty ethics, and virtue-based character ethics. The discussion begins with the importance of the problem, followed by its evolution and current status. After describing the methodology, the central section investigates the values at stake. The conclusion provides a synthesis of the findings, explores the implications of the study, and attempts to answer the question posed in the title of the paper.

Union Membership and Political Inclusion

Source: Roland Zullo, Industrial and Labor Relations, Vol. 62, No. 1, October 2008
(subscription required)

Using county-level data, the author evaluates how labor affected the general population’s political behavior during the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Voter turnout increased with unionization, but at declining rates with higher levels of unionization. The unionization/voter turnout link was stronger in counties with lower median incomes, higher income inequality, and lower levels of education, suggesting that unions partially closed the political participation gap between low- and high-SES (socioeconomic status) populations. State right-to-work laws, and the absence of collective bargaining rights for public employees, reduced labor’s ability to increase voter turnout. The union effect on candidate preference had a positive, curvilinear association with union membership, but this effect was stronger in high-SES regions than in low-SES regions. Overall, these results imply a paradox for organized labor: unions can effectively increase working-class voter turnout, but they have difficulty persuading the working class to vote for pro-labor political candidates.