Where’d the voters go?

The number one surprise of Tuesday’s vote was the fact that about 28,000 more people voted for president in Cuyahoga County in 2004 than did in 2008.  (645,009 votes for President Tuesday vs. 673,777 in 2004.)

We went into Tuesday with all signs pointing to a possible record breaking turnout, afterall about  quarter million votes had already been cast through early and absentee voting before the polls even opened Tuesday morning.  On top of that the weather was perfect, sunny and warm compared to 2004 when it was cold and raining and the lines were long.  

So what happened?  We won’t know until you get a better breakdown of who voted and where they voted.   Factors we could speculate on include the possibility that, unlike in 2004 when the polls were extremely tight, the polling at the end of this race showed the race widening so some democrats felt comfortable staying home and some republicans felt their vote wouldn’t matter.  

There’s also the possibility that voters were so freaked out about long lines and seeing people wait for hours to early vote, that they worried about the lines they would face so they didn’t vote.  It’s kind of like that old Yogi Berra line about no one goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded.

Is it the possibility that the county has lost population over the last four years.  (But that’s offset by the number of registrations or were those registration numbers really correct.)  

The good news for Barack Obama was even though he had fewer Cuyahoga County votes than John Kerry did in 2004 448,503 to 441,836 he came out of the county with a wider margin of victory than John Kerry did.  Barack Obama had 245,467 more votes than John McCain here compared to Kerry’s 226,893 edge over Bush.   Obama won Ohio 198,847 votes.

Once the breakdown of the numbers comes in we’ll have a better understanding of just what it was that kept the turnout from being what was expected.

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