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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Perhaps I’m a little sore that Hillary Clinton cited Karl Rove’s electoral map analysis in her letter to superdelegates and not ours here at 538, but there’s one passage in that letter that’s particularly misleading.

The increase in participation in the primaries has been driven by core groups favoring Hillary, led by women, Latinos and older voters.

Overall, more than 22 million Democratic primary voters were over the age of 45 this year, as compared to less than 10 million who voted in the 2004 Democratic primaries.

There is no doubt that the share of Latino voters increased dramatically in the primaries, nor that the share of women voters increased somewhat. But older voters?

At the end of this article is a comparison of the composition of the Democratic electorate in the 23 states in which exit polling data was available in both 2004 and 2008. The key findings are as follows:

* The share of the electorate aged 65 and older decreased in 21 states, increased in one state (Wisconsin), and was unchanged in one state (New Hampshire).

* The share of the electorate aged 45 and older, likewise, decreased in 21 states, increased in one state (Delaware), and was unchanged in one state (New Hampshire).

* The share of the electorate aged 18-29 increased in all 23 states.

* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 65+ made up 18.0 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 23.3 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 22 percent decrease.

* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 45+ made up 60.9 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 67.9 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 10 percent decrease.

* Weighted by the turnout in each state, voters aged 18-29 made up 14.5 percent of the electorate in 2008 as compared with 9.4 percent of the electorate in 2004; a 53 percent increase.

Did the number of older voters increase in absolute terms? Of course — since something like three times as many Democrats cast ballots in the primaries this year. The turnout of midgets of mixed French Creole/Albanian ancestry also increased in absolute terms. But the average age of a Democratic voter decreased from about 52 in 2004 to 49 in 2008.

I don’t know who runs the Clinton communications shop these days, but there is a certain amount of bottom-feeding in their argumentation that tends to impeach their credibility on other issues. Why not make the argument about women and Latinos — which ain’t a bad argument at all — and leave it at that?


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