Election Day predictions of HUGE voter turnout are as old as Election Day itself.
There’s always a slew of stories, tweets and videos about really long lines at some local precinct where no one has ever seen lines like these before. And then, usually, the voter turnout nationally turns out to be nothing special or out of the ordinary: Percentages are in the high 30s or low 40s of the voting eligible population in a midterm elections year and the low 60s in a presidential year.
Except this year!
Turnout in the 2018 midterms was 49.3% of the voting eligible population, according to projections made by the United States Election Project. If it holds, that’s remarkable – and record-breaking.
In fact, according to stats maintained by Fair Vote, the 2018 turnout would be the highest midterms turnout in more than 100 years. The only close competitor was 1966, when 48.7% of the voting eligible population actually voted.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the turnout surge is where it came from as compared to 2014, when just 36.7% of the eligible population voted – a 70-year low.
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What explains the difference? It’s hard not to ascribe it to Donald Trump, who wasn’t president in 2014, but is in 2018. Yes there are other contributing factors, but Trump is absolutely a turnout driver – for both parties. According to the 2018 exit poll, 67% of voters said Trump was a factor in their vote, with almost four in 10 saying they saw their vote as a way to send a message of opposition to the President.
The Point: More people taking part in the democratic process is a good thing. And yes, in a weird way, we have Donald Trump to thank for it.