How many eligible citizens turnout to vote?

What’s the “mix” by party affiliation?


By diving deeper into the widely varying polls, the obvious became evident to me.

By and large, the polls get about the same same answers by ‘type’ of voter … e.g. about 90% of voters throw their support behind their party’s candidate.

So, the variance in ‘headline’ numbers is almost entirely attributable to party-affiliation ‘mix’ – the proportion of voters from each party that are expected to turnout to vote.

Polls assuming that many more Dems will vote than GOPs say that Hillary is up by 4 or 5 points; polls that say there will be about an equal number of Dems & GOP turning out narrow the difference or give the edge to Trump.

Given that this will be a turnout election, I dove a bit deeper into voting trends, just to get some historical context for this election.


For openers, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center

In 2012, there were about 219 million citizens eligible to vote … 57.5% (126 million) of them did vote.

Note that 1960 was the high-water mark (64.8%), not 2008 (62.5%).

And, note that 2012 was down about 5 percentage points from 2008.


This year, most pundits are predicting that about 130 million will vote.

Clinton is trying to stir enthusiasm to hold together the Obama coalition; Trump is counting on an increase in the number of working-class voters.


Now, lets’s look at the partisan mix – the factor that will determine this year’s election….


Historically, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, there have been more registered  Democrats than Republicans

Thought the Dem registration advantage slipped from 1980 to 2000, it has held relatively constant at around 37%.

Similarly, GOP registrations have been relatively constant since 2000 at roughly 28%.

Independents have steadily grown in numbers and are now just shy of 1/4 of the registered voter pool.




This year, most pundits observe increased registrations across the board.

The uncertainty is which party is gaining disproportionately.

Trump is counting on working class citizens who haven’t previously been in the pool; Dems are counting on increased minority representation.

Both sides assert that they are winning.


Of course, getting folks to register is one thing … getting them to the polls is another.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans turned out to vote in 2012 … slight edge to to the Dems.

Of course, Obama was elected since he captured a higher percentage of his party-affiliated voters than Romney did of his.


This year most of the polls are assuming – either explicitly or implicitly – that Democrats will win the turnout race by at least a couple of of points.

If so, Hillary wins.



Teaching point

In my marketing courses, some products are ‘bought’ and others are ‘sold’ – requiring some pressure to close the deal.

That is, I distinguish between “natural” demand for a product and “induced” demand.

Natural demand is driven the the inherent strength of the product – with its benefits being almost automatically realized and acted upon by potential buyers

Since he doesn’t have a ground game organization, Trump is counting on natural demand – that the sheer magnetism of his message will draw supporters to the polls.

That’s a very ‘macro’ strategy.

Clinton’s machine operates largely on the basis of induced demand … capitalizing on the base of natural demand … and then coaxing less enthusiastic ‘leaners’ to the polls.

That’s a more practical ‘micro’ approach … leaving nothing to chance.

We’ll see which strategy works.


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One Response to “How many eligible citizens turnout to vote?”

  1. S Says:

    According to the document you linked to in this post Democrats have had a significant advantage in registration, not republicans. The assumption for the majority of your post is incorrect.

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