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Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1992

Report Number P20-466
Jerry T. Jennings


(The figures in parentheses denote the 90-percent confidence interval of the estimate.)

According to results from the November 1992 Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the Bureau of the Census, 61 (±0.3) percent of the voting-age population reported that they voted in the 1992 general election.1 This figure represents an increase of 4 (±0.3) percentage points over the rate in the elections of 1988 and is the highest turnout recorded in CPS since the elections of 1972. The 1988 turnout rate of 57 (±0.4) percent was the lowest recorded in the CPS for a Presidential election since the survey on voting and registration first began in 1964 (table A).

In the 1992 Presidential election, as in the 1988 elections, turnout among women exceeded that among men by about 2 percentage points, 62 (±0.4) for women versus 60 (+0.5) for men. These figures represent a 4 percentage point increase in turnout for both groups since 1988.

Turnout increased for most age groups, but the increase was greatest among younger persons. For persons 18 to 24 years and 25 to 44 years, turnout rose 7 points and 4 points, respectively between 1988 and 1992, to 43 percent for the 18-to 24-year olds and to 58 percent for the 25-to 44-year olds. The middle-aged group, those 45 to 64 years old, increased turnout about 2 points, to 70 percent in 1992. For the oldest age group, persons 65 years and over, turnout rose only 1 point in 1992 to 70 percent, not significantly different from the 2 point increase for the 45-to 64-year olds.

Black turnout also increased in 1992, from 52 to 54 percent, although this increase was not significantly greater than the Hispanic change over the same period.2 Compared to Whites, however, the increase in Black turnout was about half as great as the increase for Whites, whose turnout rose from 59 percent in 1988 to 64 percent in 1992. Hispanic turnout was 29 percent in both 1988 and 1992. Hispanic turnout is deflated because a large proportion (about 40 percent in 1992) of Hispanics of voting age are not U.S. citizens (table 2). Omitting non-citizens from the population base would raise Hispanic turnout in 1992 to 48 percent.

For the first time since the Bureau of the Census began collecting voting and registration data from the CPS, results were tabulated from the 1992 survey to show voting and registration among Asian and Pacific Islanders. Table 17 of this report shows that turnout among Asians and Pacific Islanders was 27 percent overall and registration 31 percent. However, 45 percent of this population group are not U.S citizens, which lowered their turnout and registration considerably. Recomputed rates for citizens show 50 percent of Asian and Pacific Islanders voting and 57 percent registered in the 1992 election.

1 This compares with 55 percent actually voting, as reported by the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. See the section below on Evaluation of the Accuracy of the Data.

2 The Hispanic turnout in 1992 was not significantly different from the Hispanic turnout in 1988.


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