Gallup finds 13% of registered voters saying they will vote for president for the first time in 2008. That matches the figure Gallup found in its final 2004 pre-election poll.
Ha Ha Ha The Young Vote Will Not Make it to the Voting Booth!
The current data are based on interviews with more than 2,700 registered voters as part of Oct. 17-19 Gallup Poll Daily tracking. Gallup asked these voters a question it had asked in its 2004 election polling: whether this would be the first time they had voted in a presidential election, or whether they had voted for president before. Despite much discussion of the possibility of large numbers of new voters in 2008, the percentage of "first time" voters in Gallup polling this election cycle is no higher than it was at approximately the same time in 2004.
The estimate of first-time voters is slightly lower, 11%, using Gallup's expanded likely voter model. Under this model, Americans who are registered to vote, who say they plan to vote, who indicate they have given "quite a lot" of thought to the election, and who rate their chances of voting as a "9" or "10" on a 10-point scale are deemed likely to vote. Gallup's traditional likely voter model takes into account past voting behavior as well as current voting intentions, but because it adjusts for voters who were too young to vote in past elections, it still estimates that 8% of likely voters will be voting for the first time.
Each presidential election brings a new wave of voters into the electoral process. And although there is speculation that Obama's candidacy -- given his appeal to young and minority voters -- could bring an unusually large number of first-time voters to the polls this year, the proportion of registered voters who say they will be voting for the first time is no higher than it was in 2004. This to some degree may reflect the high turnout in 2004, which was about 10 points higher than it had been in recent elections, and thus would have significantly diminished the available pool of potential first-time voters for the 2008 election. Thus, the fact that the 2008 estimate of first-time voters is no lower than the 2004 estimate may still reflect an impressive influx of new voters this year, even though it may not be proportionately higher than in the last election.
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