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Turnout down from 2008? Too soon to tell

Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

Voters use touch screen voting booths to participate in electronic voting during the first day of early voting October 22, 2012 in Washinton, DC.

Leading Republican pollster Bill McInturff is cautioning analysts to not jump to the conclusion that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was down from 2008.

As of Thursday about 119.4 million votes had been counted in the presidential election – compared to a total vote in the 2008 presidential election of 131 million.

But not all the votes cast in the 2012 election have been counted yet, McInturff said on Friday.

He pointed out that two days after the 2008 election, nearly 10 million votes hadn’t yet been counted. To put that in perspective, a total of nearly 8.4 million votes were cast in Florida that year.

Among those votes still to be tallied from Tuesday’s election are absentee ballots and provisional ballots cast, for example, by voters who went to the wrong precinct. (Some of those provisional votes may ultimately be invalidated and would not be counted, however).

“Turnout as a percent of citizens-of-voting-age population will be down this cycle, but, there’s still a chance the total vote cast will be as large or slightly larger than in 2008,” McInturff said.

The pollster also said that 42 percent of the drop in voter turnout on Tuesday is coming from three states hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last week: Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. All three are predominantly Democratic states which President Barack Obama easily carried both in 2008 and on Tuesday.

Voter turnout was up from 2008 levels in eight battleground states. For example, turnout was up by more than 8 percent in Colorado, which Obama won, and by 5.5 percent in North Carolina, which Republican candidate Mitt Romney carried.