A family member sent me an email about her thoughts on the long lines on election day, yet the undeniable fact that voter turnout was much lower than 4 years ago. Seeing as how I had previously mentioned the strangeness of these two seemingly contradictory events, I decided to dig a little more into the subject.
In Florida, in the 2008 Presidential Election, strong support for, then Senator, Obama, coupled with lackluster support for Sen. McCain, caused 8,144,225 people to turn out. Election day came and went without much of a hitch. Fast-forward to 2012. Voter turnout was expected to be down overall and, across the nation, overall voting did drop by around 11,000,000 people. However, during an election season when voter sentiment about the struggling economy seemed to be the number one issue on voter’s minds, voter turnout in Florida, a potentially impactful swing-state, actually increased by 155,864, totaling 8,300,089. That explains the long lines, right? Perhaps not.
The increase in Florida was less than 2%. In addition to that, early voting in Florida in 2012 totaled 4,469,393, 91,619 more than in 2008. That drops the increase in voting on actual election day to 64,245, a .7% increase. There is another reason that may explain the long lines in Florida. The 2012 Florida election ballot was 2 pages, front and back, long. Several of the Amendments being considered were confusing to the public, prompting numerous editorial pieces by local papers to explain what the Amendments meant. Does that explain the long lines? It’s possible. But, this last explanation is only possible with Florida.
Voters going to the polls in Ohio, also had extremely long lines, causing hour long waits on election day and prompting poll workers to claim that they “had never seen lines this long” in their time working at the polls. So, how was the turnout in Ohio this year, compared to 2008?
Voter turnout in Ohio this year totaled 5,343,321, 47,835 more than in 2008. However, early voting accounted for an increase of 334,970 over 2008, causing a net decrease in election day voting in Ohio of 287,135. Additionally, Ohio didn’t suffer from an unusually long and complicated ballot. As it stands, there is no good reason, that can be gleaned from the numbers, as to why Ohioans experienced the long lines and wait times at the polls.
Virginia is a bit different. As the photo above shows, unusually long lines awaited voters on election day, causing, at minimum, hour-long waits that had never been experienced before. But, in this case, the 2012 election garnered less turnout than in 2008. 3,709,916 people turned out in 2012, compared to 3,716,763 in 2008, a net decrease of 6,817. However, early voting in 2012 was 37,975 less than in 2008, causing voting on election day to see an increase of 31,158. Does this increase explain the long lines in Virginia?
Lastly, a look at Colorado. In 2012, voters in Colorado turned out in droves, increasing total turnout, compared to 2008, by 135,049 votes. That would sure cause the unusual long lines seen above. But, again, that’s not the whole story. It turns out that early voting in 2012 also increased over 2008. By how much? Early voters increased their numbers by 168,167 in Colorado this year. This would mean that actual election day voting decreased by 33,118. Again, there was no long, confusing ballot, so what was accounting for the unusually long lines, when the numbers we are being given show that we shouldn’t have seen long lines or long wait times at all?
Perhaps the most perplexing piece of the puzzle is the realization that Gov. Romney, according to the numbers released, garnered over 2 million votes less than Sen. McCain. No matter which way you look at it, this is strange. Republicans were not demoralized after coming off 8 years of President Bush this year – I disagree with the media’s summation of President Bush’s years in office – and Republicans and many Independents had been waiting, pretty much since the first month of Obama’s Presidency, to go to the polls in November 2012 and elect him out of office, a feeling only fueled by the Affordable Care Act’s passage and SCOTUS’s ruling of its constitutionality. No, turnout for Romney should have been huge or, if not huge, at least better than it was for McCain.
I’m not big on conspiracies, but when there is physical evidence of enthusiasm for Gov. Romney, as the photo above showcases, combined with public disgust, at least among Republicans and many Independents, with policies coming out of the Obama administration that have been deemed, by them, to have been detrimental to the economy, it is more than a little strange that, amid all the talk of historic turnout and long lines, not only did Romney lose the election, but he garnered less support than McCain did.
Something is fishy here.