The Enthusiasm Gap Revisited

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Here’s a pretty interesting chart from Seth Masket showing how much voter turnout changed between 2008 and 2012. Some of the outliers are obvious: Arizona and Alaska went down because they didn’t have candidates on the ticket this year. New York and New Jersey went down because of Hurricane Sandy. California is a mystery.

What’s more interesting, though, is the pattern. I’m just eyeballing this, but it looks like there really was an enthusiasm gap. Obviously three big Obama states were way below their 2008 levels. Beyond that, though lots of states at or below the red line were also Obama states in 2008 (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Vermont, etc.). Conversely, lots of states above the red line were McCain states (South Carolina, Idaho, Texas, Georgia, etc.). There are plenty of exceptions, so I might be off base here, but my quick read of this data is that if state-by-state turnout had stayed at 2008 levels, Obama would have won the popular vote by nearly as much as he did four years ago. I imagine it would be easy for someone with the raw data to stick it in a spreadsheet and find out for sure.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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