Washington, D.C.– Voters turned out in record numbers yesterday to cast ballots in the 2018 midterm general election. While the ballots are still being reviewed, counted, and adjudicated across the country, a Bipartisan Policy Center analysis of publicly reported, unofficial vote totals, shows that at least 44.5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots this year — the highest turnout in at least four decades.
It was the highest turnout for a midterm election since 18-year-olds received the right to vote by the 26th Amendment. The first midterm election they were eligible to vote in was in 1974. Since that year, the highest turnout was 42.1 percent in 1982.
“Many expected turnout to be high when both parties had successfully activated their bases and were fighting for every independent vote,” John Fortier, director of BPC’s Democracy Project, said. “My expectation is that once every vote is counted, we may see turnout of eligible voters hit 47 percent, which represents a 28 percent increase in turnout over the 2014 election cycle.”
BPC used the public vote counts for the highest turnout statewide race in every state and the District of Columbia. In some places, the highest turnout contest was a Senate race. In others, it was the governor’s or mayor’s race with the most ballots cast. In the three states without statewide contests, BPC added up all votes cast in contests for the House of Representatives.
These data are unofficial as of 10:30 a.m. ET on November 7. Not every precinct total has been publicly reported. In many cases, the data do not yet include absentee ballots. Provisional ballots are not included.
The analysis uses as its denominator the voter eligible population calculated by the United States Elections Project, which is reporting just under 236 million eligible voters for the 2018 midterm general elections.
John Fortier and Matt Weil are available for comment.