Now that Pew has released its final pre-election post, it's worth reminding everyone that the electorate that votes tomorrow is very different from the one that voted in 2008, and will be different from the one that comes out in 2012. For example, only 8 percent of likely voters are under age 30, compared to 18 percent of all voters in 2008. According to Pew, liberals make up 18 percent of likely voters, while moderates make up 32 percent of likely voters. In 2008, by contrast, liberals were 22 percent of all voters, while moderates were 44 percent of all voters. From African Americans to Latinos and low-income voters, there will be far fewer Democrats at the polls than usual.
This isn't to say that things are peachy for the Democratic majority but to say that Republican gains -- even huge ones -- won't actually say anything about the electorate as a whole. Tomorrow's results won't tell us anything about the country's ideological direction nor will they reveal anything about what the public "wants" out of its elected officials. Indeed, in terms of vote share, the phrase "GOP majority" might even be a little misleading; there's a strong chance that Tuesday will end with a 50-50 split in overall vote share, with Republicans controlling a House majority because of district composition and other quirks of the American political system.
Pace the prevailing wisdom, this election isn't a test of America's commitment to the Obama agenda or a demonstration of GOP popularity. No, it's a reflection of economic conditions and the fact that after four straight years of losses in every area of the country, Republicans are pretty excited about voting.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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