Trump drives vot­ing turnout on both sides

Data: Record 113 mil­lion Amer­i­cans cast midterm bal­lots

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By Steve Peo­ples and Thomas Beau­mont

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has in­spired out­rage, love, fear and ev­ery emo­tion in be­tween. He has also in­spired record-break­ing turnout at the bal­lot box.

An es­ti­mated 113 mil­lion Amer­i­cans cast bal­lots in the first na­tion­wide elec­tion of the Trump pres­i­dency, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by The As­so­ci­ated Press. That’s 30 mil­lion more peo­ple who par­tic­i­pated in the 2014 midterms, rep­re­sent­ing the high­est raw vote to­tal for a non-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in U.S. his­tory and the high­est over­all voter par­tic­i­pa­tion rate in a midterm elec­tion in a half-cen­tury.

Democrats’ blue wave was real. But so was a cor­re­spond­ing surge in Repub­li­can en­thu­si­asm that al­lowed the pres­i­dent’s party to counter the Democrats’ new House ma­jor­ity with big wins in top con­tests for the Se­nate and gov­er­nor­ships.

“This elec­tion was about both Democrats and Repub­li­cans show­ing up,” said Michael McDon­ald, a Univer­sity of Florida po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor who tracks voter turnout for the United States Elec­tions Project.

Voter par­tic­i­pa­tion rates ap­proached pres­i­den­tial lev­els in some states as even the most op­ti­mistic vot­ing ex­perts and po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives un­der­es­ti­mated Trump’s abil­ity to drive voter turnout on both sides.

Democrats seized the House ma­jor­ity by flip­ping at least 28 seats na­tion­wide. They could claim as many as 35 new seats once all the votes are counted, which could take weeks in some cases.

An­a­lyz­ing 417 House races that fea­tured at least two can­di­dates on the bal­lot, the AP has de­ter­mined that Democrats earned more than 51.4 mil­lion votes in com­pet­i­tive House races na­tion­wide, or 52 per­cent, com­pared to 47.2 mil­lion votes cast, or 48 per­cent, for Repub­li­cans.

But both par­ties ex­ceeded turnout ex­pec­ta­tions.

Vot­ing ex­perts noted that turnout ex­ploded in states with big-ticket elec­tions such as Florida, which fea­tured high-pro­file races for Se­nate and gover­nor, and those states with lower-pro­file con­tests such as North Carolina, which fea­tured only ju­di­cial races on the statewide bal­lot. Voter par­tic­i­pa­tion rates jumped by around 10 points in both states.

In bat­tle­ground Ohio, vot­ing was up 42 per­cent com­pared to the 2014 midterm elec­tion.

The trend was sim­i­lar in bat­tle­ground Florida, where vot­ing in­creased 33 per­cent over 2014. And in Texas, where Demo­cratic su­per­star Beto O’Rourke nar­rowly lost his bid to un­seat Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz, vot­ing was up 92 per­cent as roughly 8.2 mil­lion peo­ple voted in 2018 com­pared to 4.7 mil­lion four years ear­lier.

“I thought it was very close to com­plete vic­tory,” Trump said in a testy press con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, sug­gest­ing that los­ing the House would im­prove his po­lit­i­cal fate.

Out­side groups that pumped hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars into the midterm sea­son to en­gage young peo­ple and mi­nori­ties cited ev­i­dence that their strat­egy worked.

Youth turnout, as de­fined by vot­ers be­tween 18 and 29, surged to a num­ber not seen in a midterm elec­tion in a quar­ter cen­tury.

Over­all, 31 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble young peo­ple cast bal­lots, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by the Cen­ter for In­for­ma­tion and Re­search on Civic Learn­ing and En­gage­ment at Tufts Univer­sity.

In 2014, only an es­ti­mated 21 per­cent of young vot­ers turned out.

“Trump drove turnout on both sides,” said Howard Wolf­son, a chief aide to for­mer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent more than $110 mil­lion to help Democrats this year. “There were Democrats who would have crawled over bro­ken glass to vote against Repub­li­cans be­cause of Trump.”

ALEX WONG/GETTY

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the midterms rep­re­sents the high­est raw vote to­tal for a non-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in U.S. his­tory.

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