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133.3 million voters went to polls, an election record

Voters turned out in record numbers for the presidential election, but the percentage of eligible voters fell short of predictions.

The long lines, early voting and enthusiastic turnout of African Americans and young people added up to an estimated 133.3 million voters, according to turnout expert Michael McDonald of George Mason University.

However, only about 62.5 percent of eligible voters – lower than in 1960 and 1964 – cast ballots. Absentee and mail-in ballots may increase the number and top 1964 but not, experts say, the high-water mark of 63.8 percent set by the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon contest.

North Carolina increased its turnout by about 8 percent. In 2008, 65.7 percent of eligible N.C. voters participated in the election, up from 56.8 percent in 2004. McClatchy Newspapers

Obama saw gains with Catholics, churchgoers

Early exit polls found that Barack Obama took 54 percent of the Catholic vote, while John McCain captured 45 percent. That outcome was a reversal from the 2004 election, when George W. Bush won the Catholic vote with 52 percent compared to John Kerry's 46 percent.

Obama's win among Catholics came despite an aggressive push by some of the nation's bishops to encourage the faithful to make abortion their main issue. The abortion debate intensified when Catholic legal scholars Douglas Kmiec and Nicholas Cafardi announced their support of Obama, who supports keeping abortion legal, and urged Catholics to consider the full agenda of Catholic social teaching.

White evangelicals, who traditionally vote Republican, showed strong support for McCain. But Obama scored surprising gains in that group by picking up 26 percent of white evangelical voters, compared with 21 percent who voted for Kerry in 2004.

Another surprising conclusion to emerge from Obama's win was how he narrowed the so-called “God gap,” capturing worshipers who attend church frequently. Obama increased his share among all church-attendance groups, but he made his greatest gains among voters who attend church more than once a week. Some 43 percent of the frequent church goers supported Obama, up from the 35 percent who voted for Kerry in 2004. Chicago Tribune

Obamas' ‘first pooch' may be a rescue dog

Unlike previous White House dogs, America's next “first pooch” may come from more humble beginnings.

The Obamas appear to being leaning toward a rescue dog in what could be the next president's first major appointment. Barack Obama said Tuesday that he would fulfill a campaign promise to buy his daughters a puppy.

“Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine,” he said in his election night address. “You have earned the puppy that is coming with us.”

Throughout the campaign, the Obamas dropped hints about the dog, whose adoption was promised regardless of the campaign's outcome. Malia, 10, expressed a desire for a “goldendoodle,” a golden retriever-poodle hybrid that isn't recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club. And Michelle Obama said in October that the family would select a rescue dog from a shelter. Chicago Tribune

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