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Voter Turnout Demographics

The overall voter turnout rates provided on this site cannot reveal who among the electorate voted. For a demographic profile of the electorate, we must turn to surveys.

Among the most widely sited surveys is the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, November Voting and Registration Supplement (or CPS for short). The CPS is a large survey primarily used to calculate the nation's unemployment rate. The CPS surveys non-institutional households, which excludes from the sample military barracks, dorms and prisons. In the November of an election year the Census Bureau asks a limited number of questions about voting and registration. When cross-tabulated with the survey's extensive demographics, the CPS provides a comprehensive snapshot of participation among various demographic groups.

Surveys have error: both as a consequence from random sampling and from other issues, such as who responds to a survey and the truthfulness of their responses. Pollsters have long noted that poll respondents overstate their voting participation. A primary reason -- although not the only one -- is that people like to think of themselves in a favorable light within social norms, in this case presenting themselves as voters even if they did not vote. These errors also affect the CPS.

The statistics presented below correct the CPS for vote over-report and non-response errors, as described in more detail here.

Raw data for the charts below are provided here.

Turnout Rates: Race and Ethnicity

Non-Hispanic White Share of Electorate
Note: on different y-axis scale

Turnout Rates: Age

Turnout Rates: Education
Note: on different y-axis scale