For all the hooplah over Obama's massive voter registration drive and GOTV operation, it is surprising to discover that turnout was up only slightly over 2004. In that year, turnout was 60.6%. This year it was between 60.7% and 61.7%, an increase of only 0.1 - 1.1 percentage points.
So is this the same old story of perennially lazy young voters not showing up at the polls? Not entirely. Youth turnout was actually up by a few points, not too impressive, but that isn't the full story.
I think a large part of what happened was simply depressed Republican turnout. Obama received fewer votes than Kerry in the state of Ohio, but won by a couple hundred thousand votes anyway. Even if there was some movement to the Democrat, that doesn't explain the lower numbers overall. Clearly Republicans just weren't as motivated to vote, "Palinmania" notwithstanding.
In Indiana, we see a much different effect. McCain won only slightly fewer votes than Bush, but Obama's total was up by nearly 50% over Kerry's. Turnout overall was up, and it decisively benefited the Democrat. This was one state where the GOTV advantage was very real. Likewise, the only reason Obama won North Carolina was because of significantly higher African American turnout.
But this wasn't quite the revolution some of us were anticipating.
(h/t Far and Wide)