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Voter Turnout Surged in 2018 Midterm Election

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fifty-three percent of American citizens aged 18 or older voted in the 2018 midterm election. That may not sound like much, but it is the highest midterm turnout in four decades, according to the Census Bureau. The 11.5 percentage-point increase in turnout between 2014 and 2018 was historic. Never before has turnout increased so much from one midterm to the next.

Percent of citizens who voted in 2018 (and 2014)

  • Total, 18-plus: 53.4% (41.9%)
  • Aged 18 to 24: 32.4% (17.1%)
  • Aged 25 to 44: 46.3% (32.5%)
  • Aged 45 to 64: 59.5% (49.6%)
  • Aged 65-plus:
  • 66.1% (59.4%)

Turnout increased in every age group, but the gain was greatest among 18-to-24-year-olds. The percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who voted in 2018 was nearly double what it was in 2014 – climbing from 17.1 to 32.4%, a 15.3 percentage-point rise. Among people aged 65 or older, turnout increased by just 6.7 percentage points.

By education, the increase in voter turnout was greatest (12 to 13 percentage points) among those with some college or more education. Among those without a high school diploma, turnout increased by just 5 percentage points. The gap in turnout between the most and least educated was nearly 50 percentage points ­– only 27.2% of those without a high school diploma voted in 2018 compared with 74.0% of those with a graduate degree.

The increase in voter turnout was greater in metropolitan areas (a 12.2 percentage-point increase) than in non-metro areas (7.7 percentage points). Consequently, those who live in metropolitan areas were more likely than non-metro residents to vote in 2018 – 53.7 versus 52.1%. This was a reversal of the 2014 pattern.

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