Surge in Voter Enthusiasm Ahead of US Midterm Elections

Surge in Voter Enthusiasm Ahead  of US Midterm Elections Surge in Voter Enthusiasm Ahead  of US Midterm Elections

More than 40 million Americans voted in primaries this year, a staggering increase from four years ago and a sign of virtually unprecedented voter enthusiasm ahead of the midterm elections.

Primary voter turnout was higher than in 2014 for both Democrats and Republicans in most states across the country—though Democrats have a decided advantage, the Hill reported.

Through Thursday’s vote in New York, more than 22.7 million Democrats had cast ballots in party primaries, compared with just 13.8 million in 2014.

Among Republicans, 19.3 million showed up to vote, an increase from the 15.5 million who voted in GOP primaries four years ago.

Political scientists say the higher turnout among primary electorates is a sign that voters across the spectrum are more excited to take part in the midterms than in previous years. Some said higher participation in Democratic primaries should worry Republicans, who already face a challenging midterm cycle.

“The surge in Democratic primary turnout shows that the party’s occasional voters are energized, which is an especially encouraging sign in a midterm because so many of these voters sit out anything but a presidential race,” said Thad Kousser, who heads the political science department at the University of California-San Diego.

Comparing turnout between different midterm years is imperfect at best. Six-year Senate terms mean voters in some states do not have a reason to show up to the polls in a primary; an off-year or uncompetitive governor race, where an incumbent might face only token opposition, is another reason for voters to sit on their hands.

“One reason we’re seeing higher turnout among Democrats in 2018 than in 2014 is that 2018 promises to be a good electoral environment for Democrats, so more candidates are contesting party nominations,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida.

“Voters are more likely to participate in a competitive election than a non-competitive one.”

Correcting for those states where one side faced a primary and the other did not, Democrats still managed to turn out more than Republicans by a nearly 2 million-vote margin. In 2014, the situation was reversed: 2.2 million more Republicans voted in party primaries than did Democrats.

“When the primary turnout becomes anomalous, and suddenly it’s surging in one direction or another, that does tend to have some bearing on general election turnout,” said Tom Bonier, a Democratic micro-targeting expert. “Democratic turnout pretty consistently surged over Republican turnout.”

Some of the states where Democratic turnout increased the most are states at the heart of the battle for control of Congress, a potentially worrying sign for Republicans trying to hold on to their fragile House majority.

Democratic turnout more than doubled in 14 states, including in House race hotbeds such as Colorado, New York, Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and Nevada.

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