Out of Control Policy Blog

How big is a landslide?

Wait, wait, the election isn't over! The Electoral College, 538 members strong, is set to vote 68 percent in favor of Presumed-President-Elect Obama today. Obama won the popularity contest back in November with an estimated 53 percent of the vote.

Election results in California, certified on Saturday, correspond with the national picture of a remarkable but not record-breaking turnout. Punctuated by dramatic landslide victories and, elsewhere, hard-fought bitter margins, this election is likely to be remembered by many as a galvanizing American moment, regardless of the numbers. Which, of course, makes the numbers all the more interesting.

Obama, who won 61 percent of the California vote, was the choice of just 36 percent of eligible voters.

The very high-profile gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, got 1.4 million more total votes than the redistricting measure, Proposition 11, which Gov. Schwarzenegger lent considerable time to supporting. Both won, narrowly.

But whether you're looking at landslides or squeakers, the winners in these races represent a decided minority of the state's eligible voters. Out of an adult population of approximately 26.9 million people:

23.2 million were eligible to vote
17.3 million (75 percent) were registered to vote
13.7 million (59 percent) actually voted
8.3 million (36 percent) voted for Obama
7.0 million (30 percent) voted for Proposition 8
6.1 million (26 percent) voted for Proposition 11

Skaidra Smith-Heisters is Policy Analyst


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