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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics

Research/Publications


America’s Newest Voters:
Understanding Immigrant and Minority Voting Behavior


Recent Voting Behavior of Citizens

To be an informed observer of the 2004 elections, it is useful to have an appreciation of electoral conditions at the state level and the recent voting behavior of its citizens. Such information provides observers with an understanding of which states play an important role in deciding the presidential election; suggests how active citizens of any given state are at election time; and forecasts how candidates might fare in particular states.

In the United States, presidents are chosen according to the electoral college system. Based on its population, each state holds a certain number of electoral college votes. There are 538 electoral college votes in all. A presidential candidate must secure 270 electoral votes in order to be elected. Table 1 (see below) lists the population of each state as well as the number of electoral college votes that state holds. By examining this list, one can determine which states hold the most electoral college votes and, therefore, are most important to candidates. For example, states with large populations such as California, New York, and Texas hold a large number of electoral college votes (California holds 54 votes, New York has 33 votes, Texas holds 32 votes) and play a crucial role in a presidential candidate’s campaign.

Table 1: Total Population and Electoral Votes, By State
 
State
Total Population
Electoral Votes
               
Alabama 4,447,100  
9
 
Alaska 626,932  
3
 
Arizona 5,130,632  
8
 
Arkansas 2,673,400  
6
 
California 33,871,648  
54
 
Colorado 4,301,261  
8
 
Connecticut 3,405,565  
8
 
Delaware 783,600  
3
 
Dist. of Columbia 572,059  
3
 
Florida 15,982,378  
25
 
Georgia 8,186,453  
13
 
Hawaii 1,211,537  
4
 
Idaho 1,293,953  
4
 
Illinois 12,419,293  
22
 
Indiana 6,080,485  
12
 
Iowa 2,926,324  
7
 
Kansas 2,688,418  
6
 
Kentucky 4,041,769  
8
 
Louisiana 4,468,976  
9
 
Maine 1,274,923  
4
 
Maryland 5,296,486  
10
 
Massachusetts 6,349,097  
12
 
Michigan 9,938,444  
18
 
Minnesota 4,919,479  
10
 
Mississippi 2,844,658  
7
 
Missouri 5,595,211  
11
 
Montana 902,195  
3
 
Nebraska 1,711,263  
5
 
Nevada 1,998,257  
4
 
New Hampshire 1,235,786  
4
 
New Jersey 8,414,350  
15
 
New Mexico 1,819,046  
5
 
New York 18,976,457  
33
 
North Carolina 8,049,313  
14
 
North Dakota 642,200  
3
 
Ohio 11,353,140  
21
 
Oklahoma 3,450,654  
8
 
Oregon 3,421,399  
7
 
Pennsylvania 12,281,054  
23
 
Rhode Island 1,048,319  
4
 
South Carolina 4,012,012  
8
 
South Dakota 754,844  
3
 
Tennessee 5,689,283  
11
 
Texas 20,851,820  
32
 
Utah 2,233,169  
5
 
Vermont 608,827  
3
 
Virginia 7,078,515  
13
 
Washington 5,894,121  
11
 
West Virginia 1,808,344  
5
 
Wisconsin 5,363,675  
11
 
Wyoming 493,782  
3
 
United States 281,421,906  
538
 
   
Source: Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov
U.S. Census Bureau Website, www.census.gov
Note: 270 electoral votes needed to elect

The recent voting behavior of states also helps to forecast the nature of participation in the next election. Table 2 (see below) lists the number and percentage of citizens that registered and voted from each state in 2000. This information is useful because it suggests which citizens are more active and more likely to participate in the upcoming election and which states have a history of weak participation. Such information also might explain the voter mobilization activities of candidates and their campaigns. For example, Texas is an important state to presidential candidates and had relatively low rates of voter turnout in 2000 (43.1% of the voting age population). In such a situation, it might be in a candidate’s best interest to focus attention on getting out the vote in such a state.
 
Table 2: Voter Registration and Turnout 2000
 
State
2000 VAP
2000 Registered

% Register.
of VAP

Turnout
% Turnout of Register.
% Turnout of VAP
Alabama 3,333,000 2,528,963 75.9 1,666,272 65.9 50
Alaska 430,000 473,648 110 285,560 60.3 66.4
Arizona 3,625,000 2,173,122 59.9 1,532,016 70.5 42.3
Arkansas 1,929,000 1,555,809 80.7 921,781 59.2 47.8
California 24,873,000 15,707,307 63.2 10,965, 822 69.8 44.1
Colorado 3,067,000 2,274,152 74.1 1,741,368 76.6 56.8
Connecticut 2,499,000 1,874,245 75 1,459,526 77.9 58.4
Delaware 582,000 505,360 86.8 327,529 64.8 56.3
Dist. of Columbia 411,000 354,410 86.2 201,894 57 49.1
Florida 11,774,000 8,752,717 74.3 5,963,110 68.1 50.6
Georgia 5,893,000 3,859,960 65.5 2,583,208 66.9 43.8
Hawaii 909,000 637,349 70.1 367,951 57.7 40.5
Idaho 921,000 728,085 79.1 501,615 68.9 54.5
Illinois 8,983,000 7,129,026 79.4 4,742,115 66.5 52.8
Indiana 4,448,000 4,000,809 89.9 2,180,305 54.5 49
Iowa 2,165,000 1,841,346 85.1 1,314,395 71.4 60.7
Kansas 1,983,000 1,623,623 81.9 1,072,216 66 54.1
Kentucky 2,993,000 2,556,815 85.4 1,544,026 60.4 51.6
Louisiana 3,255,000 2,730,380 83.9 1,765,656 64.7 54.2
Maine 968,000 882,337 91.2 651,817 73.9 67.3
Maryland 3,925,000 2,715,366 69.2 2,023,735 74.5 51.6
Massachusetts 4,749,000 4,008,796 84.4 2,734,006 68.2 57.6
Michigan 7,358,000 6,861,342 93.3 4,232,501 61.7 57.5
Minnesota 3,547,000 3,265,324 92.1 2,438,685 74.7 68.8
Mississippi 2,047,000 1,739,858 84.9 994,184 57.1 48.6
Missouri 4,105,000 3,860,672 94 2,359,892 61.1 57.5
Montana 668,000 698,260 104.5 410,986 58.9 61.5
Nebraska 1,234,000 1,085,217 87.9 697,019 64.2 56.5
Nevada 1,390,000 898,347 64.6 608,970 67.8 43.8
New Hampshire 911,000 856,519 94 569,081 66.4 62.5
New Jersey 6,245,000 4,710,768 75.4 3,187,226 67.7 51
New Mexico 1,263,000 972,895 77 598,605 61.5 47.4
New York 13,805,000 11,262,816 81.6 6,960,215 61.8 50.4
North Carolina 5,797,000 5,122,123 88.4 2,914,990 56.9 50.3
North Dakota 477,000     288,256   60.4
Ohio 8,433,000 7,537,822 89.4 4,701,998 62.4 55.8
Oklahoma 2,531,000 2,233,602 88.2 1,234,229 55.3 48.8
Oregon 2,530,000 1,943,699 76.8 1,533,968 78.9 60.6
Pennsylvania 9,155,000 7,781,997 85 4,912,185 63.1 53.7
Rhode Island 753,000 655,107 87 408,783 62.4 54.3
South Carolina 2,977,000 2,157,006 72.5 1,386,331 64.3 46.6
South Dakota 543,000 471,152 86.8 316,269 67.1 58.2
Tennessee 4,221,000 3,181,108 75.4 2,076,181 65.3 49.2
Texas 14,850,000 10,267,639 69.1 6,407,037 62.4 43.1
Utah 1,465,000 1,123,238 76.7 770,754 68.6 52.6
Vermont 460,000 427,354 92.9 294,308 68.9 64
Virginia 5,263,000 3,770, 273 71.6 2,789,808 74 53
Washington 4,368,000 3,335,714 76.4 2,487,433 74.6 56.9
West Virginia 1,416,000 1,067,822 75.4 648,124 60.7 45.8
Wisconsin 3,930,000     2,598,607   66.1
Wyoming 358,000 220,012 61.5 213,726 97.1 59.7
United States 205,815,000 156,421,311 76 105,586,274 67.5 51.3

Source: Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov

Notes: 2000 VAP refers to the total Voting Age Population of the state according to the Bureau of Census. VAP includes all persons over the age of 18, including those ineligible to vote in U.S. elections.   2000 Registered refers to the total number of registered voters.   Turnout refers to the total vote cast for the President of the United States.  North Dakota has no voter registration.  Wisconsin has election day registration at the polls.

 
Finally, Table 3 (see below) documents the number of citizens that voted for each presidential candidate in 2000, George Bush and Al Gore, and the number of electoral votes the candidate received. Again, this information gives some indication of how each party’s candidate may fare in 2004. For example, in Massachusetts in 2000, Al Gore won the popular and electoral college vote in a convincing fashion. This suggests that the Republican candidate in 2004 will face an uphill battle in winning the state and may be better off focusing his campaign energy elsewhere. The story in other states may not be so clear cut. Florida is an obvious example. In 2000, George Bush won the popular vote in Florida by only 537 votes thereby securing its 25 electoral college votes. Such a close race suggests that, in 2004, the state will be up for grabs to both the Democratic and Republican candidates. Consequently, it is highly likely that the candidates will place a great deal of effort into winning the state and its valuable electoral college votes.

2000 Presidential Electoral And Popular Vote

State Electoral Vote Popular Vote
 
 Bush (R)
Gore (D)
Bush (R)
Gore (D) All Others Total Vote
Alabama 
9
  
941,173 692,611 32,488 1,666,272
 Alaska
 3
 
167,398 79,004 39,158 285,560
 Arizona
 8
 
781,652 685,341 65,023 1,532,016
 Arkansas
 6
 
472,940 422,768 26,073 921,781
 California
 
 54
4,567,429 5,861,203 537,224 10,965,856
 Colorado
 8
 
883,748 738,227 119,393 1,741,368
 Connecticut
 
 8
561,094 816,015 82,416 1,459,525
 Delaware
 
 3
137,288 180,068 10,266 327,622
 Dist. of Columbia
 
 2*
18,073 171,923 11,898 201,894
 Florida
 25
  
2,912,790 2,912,253 138,067 5,963,110
 Georgia
 13
  
1,419,720 1,116,230 60,854 2,596,804
 Hawaii
 
 4
137,845 205,286 24,820 367,951
 Idaho
 4
  
336,937 138,637 26,047 501,621
 Illinois
 
 22
2,019,421 2,589,026 133,676 4,742,123
 Indiana
 12
 
1,245,836 901,980 51,486 2,199,302
 Iowa
 
 7
634,373 638,517 42,673 1,315,563
 Kansas
 6
 
622,332 399,276 50,610 1,072,218
 Kentucky
 8
 
872,492 638,898 32,797 1,544,187
 Louisiana
 9
 
927,871 792,344 45,441 1,765,656
 Maine
 
 4
286,616 319,951 45,250 651,817
 Maryland
 
 10
813,797 1,145,782 65,901 2,025,480
 Massachusetts
 
 12
878,502 1,616,487 207,995 2,702,984
 Michigan
 
 18
1,953,139 2,170,418 108,944 4,232,501
 Minnesota
 
 10
1,109,659 1,168,266 160,760 2,438,685
 Mississippi
 7
 
572,844 404,614 16,726 994,184
 Missouri
 11
  
1,189,924 1,111,138 58,830 2,359,892
 Montana
 3
 
240,178 137,126 33,693 410,997
 Nebraska
 5
 
433,862 231,780 31,377 697,019
 Nevada
 4
 
301,575 279,978 27,417 608,970
 New Hampshire
 4
 
273,559 266,348 29,174 569,081
 New Jersey
 
 15
1,284,173 1,788,850 114,203 3,187,226
 New Mexico
 
 5
286,417 286,783 25,405 598,605
 New York
 
 33
2,403,374 4,107,697 310,928 6,821,999
 North Carolina
 14
 
1,631,163 1,257,692 22,407 2,911,262
 North Dakota
 3
 
174,852 95,284 18,120 288,256
 Ohio
 21
 
2,351,209 2,186,190 168,058 4,705,457
 Oklahoma
 8
 
744,337 474,276 15,616 1,234,229
 Oregon
 
 7
713,577 720,342 100,049 1,533,968
 Pennsylvania
 
 23
2,281,127 2,485,967 146,025 4,913,119
 Rhode Island
 
 4
130,555 249,508 29,049 409,112
 South Carolina
 8
 
785,937 565,561 31,219 1,382,717
 South Dakota
 3
 
190,700 118,804 6,765 316,269
 Tennessee
 11
 
1,061,949 981,720 32,512 2,076,181
 Texas
 32
 
3,799,639 2,433,746 174,252 6,407,637
 Utah
 5
 
515,096 203,053 52,605 770,754
 Vermont
 
 3
119,775 149,022 25,511 294,308
 Virginia
 13
 
1,437,490 1,217,290 84,667 2,739,447
 Washington
 
 11
1,108,864 1,247,652 130,917 2,487,433
 West Virginia
 5
 
336,475 295,497 16,152 648,124
 Wisconsin
 
 11
1,237,279 1,242,987 118,341 2,598,607
 Wyoming
 3
 
147,947 60,481 9,923 218,351
 Total:  271 266 50,456,002

47.87%

50,999,897

48.38%

3,949,201

3.75%

105,405,100

Source: Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov

Notes: * The District of Columbia has 3 electoral votes. Two votes were cast for Gore and the third was an abstention.  There are 538 total electoral votes and 270 electoral votes are needed to elect.