Report Rips "Two-Tiered Democracy"

Posted on August 03, 2005

Among Findings: Kerry Wins if Popular Vote Margin Closer;
Turnout Gap Soars;
Whites Over-Represented in Swing States


FairVote's new report shows that fewer and fewer Americans play a meaningful role in electing the president. The Shrinking Battleground: The 2008 Presidential Elections and Beyond examines the partisanship of each state, gauging how well each party ran relative to the national average. The report shows a trend of hardening and widening partisanship. As a result, the number of truly competitive states shows every sign of shrinking in 2008 and beyond. Key findings of the report include:

  • A shrinking battleground. In 1960, 24 states with a total of 327 electoral votes were highly competitive. In 2004, only 13 states with 159 electoral votes were similarly competitive.
  • Partisan consequences. Democrats did relatively better in swing states than the nation as a whole; indeed John Kerry would have won if George Bush's popular margin had been less than 425,000 votes. Democrats are slightly better positioned for 2008 than Republicans.
  • A voter turnout gap. In swing states, turnout rose by 9%. Elsewhere, it rose only 2%, leaving an overall gap of 10%. The gap between these groupings of states was 17% for young voters.

  • Racial disparities. More than 30% of white Americans live in battlegrounds, while only 21% of African Americans and Native Americans, 18% of Latinos, and 14% Asian Americans.

According to FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie, “Our report is powerful evidence that the time has come for a renewal of the movement for direct election of the president.”�

Read the report and summary at For more information or to seek comment, contact Ryan O'Donnell at (301) 270-4616 or email

FairVote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that studies the impact of electoral rules and systems on turnout, representation and electoral competition. Its chairman is John B. Anderson, former Congressman and presidential candidate.

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