Election 2008: South sets records in voter turnout; rest of nation about the same

There was a lot of hype going into Election Day that an historic election and a tight race would drive up voter turnout to record levels in 2008. But did turnout revolution materialize?

Sort of, according to a new report by Curtis Gans of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate [pdf]. In analyzing preliminary results from 47 states, Gans concludes:
[T]urnout [will] be at either exactly the same level as in 2004 or, at most, one percentage point higher.
In Gans' report -- which is a little different in that it measures turnout against the total eligible voting population, not just registered voters -- only 22 of the 47 states showed increases in turnout in 2008.

But the South clearly stood apart in getting people to the polls -- six Southern states set records for turnout in 2008:
The greatest increase in overall turnout was in North Carolina, where turnout increased by 9.4 percentage points to a record high. Georgia also had a record high turnout, increasing by 6.7 percentage points, as did South Carolina with a 6.0 percentage point increase. Others setting new records included Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia.
Notably absent from this list is Florida. In Gans' estimation, turnout in the critical battleground state actually slightly declined from 2004 by .5%.

The dramatic increases are attributed to a dramatic rise in Democratic -- and especially African-American -- voters in the Southern states. North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia showed the biggest jumps in Democratic voters in the South.