Voter Turnout in 2012: Meh

Thanks to Michael McDonald at George Mason University, we have the final turnout statistics for the 2012 presidential election, and the verdict is ... eh. Not too bad, not too great. A total of 129,058,169 votes were counted, out of an eligible population of 221,925,820, for a turnout figure of 58.2 percent. How does that compare to previous years, you ask? Or rather, can you show me a chart comparing that to previous years? Why yes. Yes I can.

Last year's turnout was right in the middle of the 17 elections presented in this chart—better than eight, but worse than eight. It was a bit down from that of 2008, which at 61.6 percent was the highest since 1964. And it's important to remember that there's a huge variation in turnout among the separate states. The friendly and civic-minded people of Minnesota always have the nation's highest turnout, and this year an admirable 75.7 percent of them came to the polls. At the other end, four states came in below 50 percent: Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Hawaii, bringing up the rear at 44 percent. Why does Hawaii have such low turnout? Turns out there are a number of reasons, only some of them having to do with people being too busy surfing. You'd think that having a native son on the ballot would make a difference, but no; even in in 2008, with the novelty of the first Hawaii-born candidate, they came in last too.

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