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Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters.

"It is fair to say that 2010 was the year of older, rich people." That's the conclusion of a new research memo from Project Vote, "An Analysis of Who Voted (and Who Didn’t Vote) in the 2010 Election," by Dr. Lorraine Minnite. It finds that wealthier voters and Americans over the age of 65 surged to the polls in 2010, and increased their support for the Republican party, while young voters and minority voters (who strongly favor Democrats) dropped off at higher rates than in 2006.

Two years ago, African-Americans, lower-income Americans, and young Americans all participated in the 2008 presidential election in decisive numbers, making it the most diverse electorate in history. In 2010, however, these historically underrepresented groups were underrepresented again, as they (in common with most Americans) largely stayed home. Non-voters were the majority in 2010, a fact that "throws cold water on any victor’s claims for a mandate."

This new memo analyzes exit poll and preliminary voting data to give the first comprehensive picture of the 2010 electorate. While this election largely followed patterns typical of midterms, Dr. Minnite found a few distinct features of the 2010 electorate that help explain the results. Absent a national race to galvanize new and minority voters, fewer voters turnout and the populations that do vote tend to be older. The racial composition of the population that voted in 2010 closely mirrored that of 2006: 80 percent of voters were white, 10 percent were black, eight percent Latino, and two percent Asian.

However, several distinct features of the 2010 voting population stand out, and contributed to the results on November 3:

  1. Senior citizens turned out in force, with the number of ballots cast by voters over 65 increasing by 16 percent. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. resident population, Americans in this age group constituted 21 percent of 2010 voters. This age group also significantly increased their support of Republican candidates, from 49 percent in 2006 to 59 percent in 2010.
  1. The number of ballots cast by Americans from households making over $200,000 a year increased by 68 percent compared to 2006.
  1. Relative to 2008, minority and youth voters dropped out of the voting population at higher rates than whites, undoing much of the gain in demographic parity achieved in 2008.
  1. Women—already one of the most reliable voting groups—increased their share of the electorate, and significantly increased their support of the Republican Party.
  1. Bucking the national trends, Latinos increased their share of the voting population in several states, saving at least three Senate seats for the Democrats.

"Perhaps the most significant point about voter turnout in 2010 is how many voters didn't vote," wrote Steven Thomma and William Douglas at McClatchy Newspapers on our study. "Some 38 percent of eligible voters didn't vote in 2008, and this November, another 33 percent didn't show up, which means that ‘nonvoters were the majority in 2010.’"

As we know from our recent poll (among others), the electorate as a whole is shifting away from the views and values of these older, wealthier white conservatives who dominated the 2010 election: "As in most midterm elections, the people who voted in 2010 were not really representative of the American people," says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. "This study raises serious questions about which constituencies candidates choose to court and engage as they look ahead to 2012, since the electorate, as a whole, is shifting away from the views and values of the older, wealthier white conservatives who dominated the 2010 election."

Originally posted to Project Vote on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 11:37 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We are pissing in the wind with all our efforts. (3+ / 0-)

    Most people just don't give a shit.  It is very discouraging.

    "New TSA slogan: can't see London, can't see France, unless we see your underpants."

    by lakehillsliberal on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 11:46:58 AM PST

    •  dem politicians (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lakehillsliberal

      are the ones who don't give a shyt about your efforts, it seems. Most folks don't read daily kos, no surprise, but most would like the kind of ideas we like here like universal healthcare and ending the wars.

      •  If they would just show up to vote....that would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FiredUpInCA

        be encouraging because it is normally people that basically agree with us that sit out the elections.  We call, we register, we knock and it is like talking to a brick wall.  

        "New TSA slogan: can't see London, can't see France, unless we see your underpants."

        by lakehillsliberal on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 01:11:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lakehillsliberal

          but enthusiasm was down and we had watered down dem policies to try to get out the vote with. Staying home is bad but at least they didn't vote repub so we can still get to them in 12.

          •  We have to prove to them that we can do the job. (0+ / 0-)

            The young are being so heavily impacted by the jobs situation.  Obama and the Dem's need to figure out how to create jobs because if they don't, our 2012 problem with turnout will make 2010 look like a picnic.  

            "New TSA slogan: can't see London, can't see France, unless we see your underpants."

            by lakehillsliberal on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 06:46:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  We need a progressive movement that... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kj in missouri, lakehillsliberal

          ...is more than just a support auxiliary for the Democratic Party. Spending the last two to six months before each election persuading Americans to vote for our candidates is not enough. We need a year-round effort that provides the bottom-up push to budge government to make fundamental reforms and to build those reforms at the local, regional and state level, too. Then, when we go knocking on doors or phoning, we're not making cold calls.

          Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 01:22:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  One of the problems we have is that we engage (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, kj in missouri

            the young voters and some non-voters, promise them change if they just show up. They do that and  then the  Democrats capitulate to the most conservative elements of the party, people like Baucus and Nelson, who don't represent that promise or that change.  It seems like a bait and switch.  We have to figure out a way to hold the Democrats more accountable to the platform that we sell for them.  

            "New TSA slogan: can't see London, can't see France, unless we see your underpants."

            by lakehillsliberal on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 01:34:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes, (0+ / 0-)

              i'm crossing my fingers that the losses in 2010 were a hard and a once-in-a-generation sort of lesson for the new, younger voters.  that eternal vigilance is the price we pay for democracy, ie:

              The Price of Liberty is Vigilance.
              ~~Benjamin Franklin

              and along with vigilance is a handy, up-dated call congress phone list and local activist list.

              "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

              by kj in missouri on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 05:25:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  oh hell yes... (0+ / 0-)

            that, to me, is as vital as separate of church and state.   well said.  (ps. i'm reading your comments.  i'm not following you around, really! only kind of!  but not in a bad way!  in a "what is MB thinking today" sort of way!)

            ignore.  @-)

            "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

            by kj in missouri on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 05:21:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  "I got your back." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moonpal, FiredUpInCA

    Unless I don't.

    Shameless self-promo: songs at da web site!

    by Crashing Vor on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 11:48:06 AM PST

  •  women shifting the GOP is just bizarre (0+ / 0-)

    how little self-respect must one have to vote for the party of palin - ridiculous, obviously stupid women being paraded around like dolls for brainless girls.

    •  Women didn't shift to the GOP (4+ / 0-)

      It's just that older, richer white women voted at a higher rate. This isn't so much about numerical changes as much as percentage changes. The percentage of people inclined to vote GOP went up and the percentage of people inclined to vote Democratic went down. Most of the GOP voted came from people who had been pissed off about losing since Nov 4, 2008.

      Things fall apart; the center cannot hold-Yeats Grab a mop- President Barack Obama

      by TexasMango on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 12:04:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The article is misleading (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue, not2plato

      in that it cites percentages.  Midterm turnout is usually about 70-75% of Presidential election turnout and definitely partisan, which makes most hardcore partisan characteristics measure 30% higher among midterm voters than Presidential ones by sheer default.

      I suspect just about everyone who showed up at the polls three weeks ago also showed up for the '08 election- and voted the same way.  The results are so different because many centrist voters never show up for midterms no matter what.  That makes midterms a contest of which side's definite leaners turn out.

      *at work immanentizing the eschaton*

      by killjoy on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 12:23:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem is that while the turnout... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        killjoy, kj in missouri, FiredUpInCA

        ...in mid-terms are about 75% of the presidential election, it's the internals that matter. For instance, those more liberal, more racially diverse young voters who turned out 68% for Barack Obama and other Democrats in 2008? 52% voted in 2008, tying the records in 1972 and 1992. That was still less than voter turnout in the older cohorts, but not hugely less. But in 2010, only 22.8% turned out, less than half as much as older cohorts. And their support for Democrats fell from 60% of their votes to 57%, less than in the 2006 mid-term. A smaller portion of those young voters who voted for McCain in 2008 than those who voted for Obama turned out in 2010.

        Link

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 01:18:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So now it's (0+ / 0-)

    blame the victim?  Instead of criticizing those who voted, how about criticizing those who didn't vote?  How about taking into consideration that many of those whose income is less than $200,000 are so demoralized by the current crop of politicians that they felt unable to vote for any one of them?  So they stayed home.  (And no, I wasn't one of them.)

    Women's 2010 vote (or non-vote) is a warning shot across the bow. You call women stupid for voting Republican (at a rate of 50%).  How about looking at it as 50% of women did not, or could not, vote Democratic?  And it's not as if Democrats weren't warned about a women's backlash...Like it or not, many are still livid about the '08 primary, and see Obama's performance as a vastly inferior one.

    Take this as a very bad sign for the 2012 election.  

  •  Voting is meaningless.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    House of Gin

    ...when you live in a dictatorship. As in the US, you either get dictator "D" or dictator "R" and nothing ever changes except the rich getting richer and you and me and everyone else gets poorer. I think even typically dumb Americans are even catching onto this and therefore, staying home on election day.

    I know I will never vote again as long as thefascist corporatist oligarchy continues to pick bought and paid for candidates to continue building Empire.

  •  "Senior citizens turned out in force" (0+ / 0-)

    Were all of these people enrolled in Medicare Advantage and upset that their free gym memberships were being taken away?  My prediction is that in the next Congress, nobody touches Medicare with a 10-foot pole.  The Catfood Commission's recommendations about savings in Medicare and also SS is DOA.

    "Do I have any regrets about the hard votes I took?" No. Not at all...and I never will. --Mary Jo Kilroy

    by Kurt from CMH on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 12:37:37 PM PST

  •  Interesting--I had a conversation with a friend (0+ / 0-)

    yesterday--he said that his approach is not to vote--that voting is a vote of confidence in a system that is clearly broken. Also, you may have seen the George Carlin routine on voting embedded below. My point is that there may be something to not voting.

    •  carlin is totally, right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri, FiredUpInCA

      things are messed up but you shold still vote. Why?

      1. If you vote for one of the few good dems or a third party, even if they lose, it encourages them and others to keep up the fight. If a third party gets say 5% of the vote, that is huge for them, may cause others to run for office in the future and next time get 10%, so on and so on.
      1. You should vote and encourage everyone you know to vote as well. This doesn't change what goes on in govt much but the simple act of voting makes you stop and think in your otherwise busy day about politics. I probably think about politics too much as a kos user but for most folks they think of it not enough. If more people were politically concious we would have enough people for a real movement, we could organize strikes and protests better, the things that lead to real change. So voting is good for everyone to do just to get them to think about politics.
  •  Amazing, that the one strategy towards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, FiredUpInCA

    making progress, registering
    and encouraging the disenfranchised
    to vote, is so handily dismissed
    out of hand. Or ignored. Especially here.

    Yeah, don't vote to get what you want.

    Thanks, project vote, for at least trying
    to keep this neglected avenue open, and
    for all of your many other efforts.

  •  I beg to differ Project Vote (0+ / 0-)

    As we know from our recent poll (among others), the electorate as a whole is shifting away from the views and values of these older, wealthier white conservatives who dominated the 2010 election.

    There was a national poll on November 2 wherein the electorate as a whole had an opportunity to stand by their aspirations for the country. It was called Election Day.

    All the polls tell me is that more people are willing to take time to answer questions on a poll than they are to research and vote for candidates and policies in their state that will be affecting their lives and the lives of their neighbors, friends and families.

    The Indifferent Party was the largest party during the 2008 election too. Even after 8 years of watching leadership that brought us Hurricane FEMA and pre-emptive wars and after getting to the brink of a Great Depression, the Indifferent Party's answer was to shrug.

    More people are engaged with the voting process of Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, than they are with voting for the values that they claim to support in poll after poll.

    If you didn't show up in 2008 or 2010, your answers to poll questions are ultimately are meaningless, because you failed to show up and make your voice heard in the only poll that really matters: Election Day.

    Meteor Blades signature says it all for me.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

  •  It's sooo SAD the seniors voted GOP (0+ / 0-)

    and they are a bunch of old fools. No surprise that those who have money think it necessary to vote. After all, they are the anti tax, anti social justice, and pro Social Darwinism. They have money in their pockets. They can survive and the rest have to get along or else. Another interesting point is that so many people were not aware that the GOP had taken over the House. The DEMS had no message and they acted irresponsibly by neglecting to tell the people about their programs and the road forward. Obama has to do a better job of leading and the Senate needs to do a much better job of letting the repuglycons embarrass themselves with filibusters or actions they take against the american middle class.

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