As the first polls closed on Tuesday night, early reports indicated a trend of high voter turnout around the country on par with the record levels set in 2008.
Both parties conceded in the election’s closing days that it could all come down to turnout. And based on estimates of voter participation in some of the most hotly contested swing states, voters took heed of those get out the vote messages.
In Colorado, 71 percent of registered voters had cast ballots by 5 pm local time, according to the Denver Post. That’s the same percentage as voted in 2008, when the state posted one of the highest turnout rates in the nation.
Also according to the Post, some voters reported waiting in lines for up to 90 minutes before getting the chance to vote. In the days leading up to the election, a Denver Post poll showed Obama leading Romney by just two points there.
In Virginia, election officials said they expected turnout to also reach the 70 percent threshold, according to the Associated Press. If so, that would top the number who voted four years ago when Obama became the first Democrat in decades to carry the state. Virginia and its 13 electoral votes are especially critical to a victorious Romney election map.
Elsewhere, similar anecdotal evidence pointed to high turnout. Long lines forming early outside New Hampshire polling sites; heavy turnout not suppressed by Sandy in storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey.
In 2008, 130 million voters cast ballots, shattering the previous level of participation in a presidential election. Much of that surge in participation came from young voters, a demographic Obama effectively targeted, and one he hoped would turn out in droves this year as well.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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