Elections: Turnout in the 2004 Presidential Election


Martin P. Wattenberg is professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Where Have All the Voters Gone? and The Decline of American Political Parties, 1952-1996.


Throughout the United States in 2004 turnout rates were up substantially. Contributing to this positive development were increased interest in the campaign and improvements in vote recording systems. Yet, reports of record turnout need to be tempered. The percentage of citizens who went to the polls fell quite short of the levels found in 1960 in most non-southern states. Barring further extraordinary events such as those experienced during George W. Bush's first term, it is likely that the turnout increase of 2004 will prove to be a blip rather than the start of an upward trend.