The Census Bureau sure knows how to ruin a good narrative.
The bureau released figures today showing a smaller percentage of registered voters went to the polls last November than in 2004. Even in voting-intensive Minnesota, more whites stayed home.
According to the national data, more older whites opted to stay home compared with 2004, citing little interest in supporting either Barack Obama or John McCain.
By race, the percentage of registered voters in Minnesota who voted was higher for whites (71.6%) than blacks (69%). In 2004, 78% of registered white voters showed up. Among black voters , 64.7% voted.
"The 2008 presidential election saw a significant increase in voter turnout among young people, blacks and Hispanics," said Thom File, a voting analyst with the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division said in a news release. "But as turnout among some other demographic groups either decreased or remained unchanged, the overall 2008 voter turnout rate was not statistically different from 2004."
The study also reaffirmed an existing maxim: Generally speaking, young people couldn't care less about voting. Among whites, the smallest turnout was among 18-to-24 year olds (43.8%). Among blacks, this age group also had the lowest turnout (52.3%).
But for all of the jokes about Minnesota in the wake of the Coleman-Franken race, one fact remains: Minnesotans vote. The state had the highest turnout (75%). Hawaii (51.8%), Utah (53.1%), West Virginia (53.4%), and Arkansas (53.8%) brought up the rear.
The Census Bureau data also showed -- again -- that the higher your income, the more likely you are to vote.
So MPR and the AP say that "whites stayed home on Election Day" and the Star trib story says that the number of "white voters remained statistically unchanged" Interesting that there is such diversity in the reporting.
I haven't read the Strib story (just looked at the headline), but I'm presuming they're talking about the actual NUMBER of voters as opposed to the percentage of registered voters.
If so, it doesn't carry a lot of meaning for me since turnout has always been stated as a percentage of registered voters.
I've provided a link to the spreadsheets and data so you can doublecheck the wording. My comparisons of data were both outside of the margin or error,which is included in the data sets.