For all the attention generated by Barack Obama's candidacy, the share of eligible voters who actually cast ballots in November declined for the first time in a dozen years.
Census figures released Monday show about 63.6 per cent of all U.S. citizens ages 18 and older, or 131.1 million people, voted last November.
Although that represented an increase of 5 million voters -- virtually all of them minorities -- the turnout relative to the population of eligible voters was a decrease from 63.8 per cent in 2004.
Those numbers would seem to put a damper on the thesis that Obama really captured people's imagination, the election looks a ho hum affair at first blush. While it's true that the overall percentage was down, the numbers also show that it was really Obama voters that came out, while more traditional Republican support stayed home. Young voters came out in higher percentages, as did all visible minorities- so the overall figures don't quite capture what the Democrats did on their side of the ledger and they tend to mask a real malaise around McCain. The overall numbers might be supressed because some were dejected at their prospects so they stayed home (I can think of similar recent example here).