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Obama's turnout historical in numbers, diversity

The estimated 136 million Americans who voted are part of a radical transformation of American politics – and not just in terms of ideology and party identification.

People lined up to vote at a polling station on election day in Washington.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

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The turn-out was record high. The voters: a rich palate of American diversity – women, blacks, Hispanics, whites – young people and old.

They made history – redrawing the nation’s electoral map, turning red states blue, and confounding the cynics as they elected the nation’s first African-American President.

An estimated 136 million Americans – as many as 66 percent, the most since 1908 – pulled a lever, touched a screen, or filled in ballot. They are part of a radical transformation of American politics – not just in terms of ideology and party identification. It goes much further than that.

President-elect Barack Obama, harnessing the lightening speed of digital technology, tapped a new generation of young people, inspiring them to work, knock on doors, make phone calls, convince their parents, friends, neighbors, and grandparents that there was something in America still worth fighting for.

Early analyses of the electorate show the percentage of the voting population that was young – 18 to 24 – increased only a percentage or two from past elections to 18 percent. But in terms of actual numbers who turned up at the polls, their percentage increase is expected to far outpace that of other demographic groups. And their support for the Illinois senator is considered pivotal. The “under 30’s” voted for Obama 66 percent to 32 percent for his rival John McCain.

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