The turnout myth

As expected, the media version of the election was an inaccurate one, as shown by this study (PDF) from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate:

A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout. The percentage of eligible citizens voting Republican declined to 28.7 percent down 1.3 percentage points from 2004. Democratic turnout increased by 2.6 percentage points from 28.7 percent of eligibles to 31.3 percent. It was the seventh straight increase in the Democratic share of the eligible vote since the party’s share dropped to 22.7 percent of eligibles in 1980.

Note that the historical table shows bigger increases in the percentage of voters in 1992, 2000 and 2004 than in 2008. While one might conclude that Americans are simply less interested in liberty than before, given the low 0.032 percent vote for the Libertarian and Constitution parties combined, I think the threefold increase in non-voters seen on this blog shows that the decline is probably more indicative of a loss of faith in the representative vote as an effective method for restoring liberty to a nation. Voting these days primarily concerns how the spoils of government revenue will be divided, an act of little interest to the libertarian.

As Nate has pointed out in the past, it is almost impossible to think of a single historical situation where freedom from government control has come about through the peaceful means of voting. (By all means, do feel free to propose any examples in the comments.) Men have voted away their liberties since Gaius Marius was first elected to an unprecedented third term as consul, but they seldom seem to ever see fit to vote themselves more freedom.