About 49 percent of the nation’s voting-age population went to the polls Tuesday, the lowest level for a presidential election since 1924, according to Voter News Service, a consortium of six major news organizations which provides exit-poll information.
Several hundred thousand uncounted absentee ballots eventually could lift the national tally beyond 50.3 percent, the turnout in 1988.
Political analysts said Tuesday’s low turnout reflected a largely static presidential campaign and an electorate who generally is satisfied with the economy compared with the recession of 1992, plus a troubling long-term set of institutional problems with the country’s political parties.
“We have misaligned political parties,” said Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, which tracks turnout. “We have a Republican Party that’s way to the right of center. We have a Democratic Party that is so poll-driven that it doesn’t have a consistent message, and it’s targeting the middle class, which leaves out the poorer people.”
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