Image: Ohio voters
Matt Sullivan  /  Reuters
Absentee voters form a line as they wait for ballots at the Licking County Board of Elections in Newark, Ohio, on Tuesday.
updated 11/8/2006 10:40:35 AM ET 2006-11-08T15:40:35

Voter turnout was more than 40 percent this year, slightly higher than in the last midterm election, according to the nonpartisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University.

A preliminary analysis showed turnout down in some states and up in others — notably up in Virginia, where it appeared a higher number voted than in any midterm in the state’s history, said Curtis Gans, director of the center.

It also was a big turnout success for Democrats. They drew more voters than Republicans for the first time in a midterm election since 1990, Gans said Wednesday.

The national figure of slightly over 40 percent turnout this year compares with 39.7 percent in the last midterm in 2002.

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National turnout could end up substantially higher, pending more complete numbers from California and Washington state, Gans said. The highest recent midterm turnout was 42.1 percent in 1982.

In fiercely contested Virginia — where Democratic challenger James Webb’s lead over Republican incumbent George Allen was razor thin and a recount was likely — an estimated 43.7 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, compared to 29.2 percent in the previous midterm.

The last time turnout was comparably high in Virginia was when it hit 43.2 in 1994, Gans said.

High turnout in Ohio
Ohioans also came out in substantially greater numbers — unofficial figures showed 44.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots compared to 38.4 percent in 2002.

Turnout also was substantially higher in Michigan and Missouri; somewhat higher in Connecticut, Delaware and Kentucky, and slightly higher in Montana, Gans’ calculations showed.

It went down substantially in Louisiana because voters there didn’t have a statewide race to decide “and because of (Hurricane) Katrina,” Gans said. Decreases also were posted in Florida, Georgia and likely Hawaii, he said.

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