The results of the 2018 election are well known, highlighted by the Democrats’ “blue wave” takeover of the House of Representatives and other state offices across the country. However, recently released data from the Census Bureau sheds new light on how this was done—with extraordinarily high levels of voter turnout among voting blocs that lean Democratic. These data, from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) voting supplement, provide information not available earlier—estimates of voter turnout for key demographic groups—both nationally and for states. They tell us which groups exceeded turnout expectations in 2018 and suggest that good things may be in store for Democrats in the 2020 presidential contest.

Even before all the votes were counted last November, reports indicated that turnout had surged. Now, the Census Bureau’s estimates show that the 2018 turnout—at 53.4 percent—was the highest in midterm elections since it started collecting voter turnout numbers (voters per 100 citizens) in 1978; and for the first time since 1982, it rose above 50 percent. Interestingly, this surge follows the lowest midterm turnout rate in the Census Bureau’s time series—41.9 percent in 2014.

Author: William H. Frey, May 2019