In a new Lake Research Partners/The Voter participation Center report, “Comparing the Voting Electorate in 2012-2016 and Predicting 2018 Drop-off,” Celinda Lake and Joshua E. Ulibarri offer data-driven projections of voter turnout in the 2018 elections. The study should be required reading for all 2018 Democratic candidates and campaigns. As Lake and Ulibarri report:
- Using a predictive methodology for population growth and likely turnout patterns, it is projected that the RAE [Rising American Electorate – “unmarried women, Millennials (ages 18-34)*, African Americans, Latinos, and all other people of color (as defined by the Census) – now accounts for more than half of the voting eligible population in this country (59.2%)”] will comprise 61.6% of those who will vote in November 2018. This means that one in three voters who turned out in 2016 will NOT turn out in 2018 (35.1% of those who voted in 2016, or 25.4 million RAE voters, will stay home).
- The predicted drop-off among non-RAE voters is only 22.1% or 14.4 million voters. In fact, of the nearly 40 million Americans predicted to drop-off from 2016, two-thirds will come from the RAE (remember, the RAE represents 59.2% of the vote eligible population).
- Turnout is predicted to drop the most among Millennial voters and unmarried women. In fact, this is true in patterns seen between 2008 and 2014. Drop-off among Millennials is predicted to be 54.1% (or 17.2 million voters) and 33.4% among unmarried women (or 11.1 million voters).
- Regionally, the biggest drop-off of RAE voters is predicted to take place in the Mid-Atlantic states (NY, PA, and NJ – Census defined region). Here, 39.6% of RAE voters are expected to drop-off in 2018.
- Among target states, Virginia, North Carolina, and Nevada are expected to see the biggest drop-off rates among RAE voters. 48.7% (or roughly 1,106,000 voters) of RAE voters are predicted to drop off in Virginia in 2018, while 44.2% (or roughly 309,000 voters) and 43.4% (or roughly 1,135,000 million voters) of RAE voters will drop off in Nevada and North Carolina, respectively.
The study includes national, regional and state data, and the authors note that “Drop-Off – refers to the loss of voters from 2016 to 2018. The average of turnout in 2006, 2010, and 2014 was applied to 2018 population estimates to calculate 2018 turnout. Percentage drop-off is the difference between 2016 and 2018 turnout as a percentage of 2016 turnout. Number drop-off is that percentage of the 2016 electorate.”
The study underscores the profound disadvantage Democratic candidates face in midterm elections, since the RAE is composed of largely pro-Democratic constituencies. The 2018 vote total could be even worse, if the Republicans are able to expand their voter suppression impact. If, on the other hand, Democrats are able to run really good candidates and mobilize more effective voter registration, education and turnout campaigns, the 2018 results could be significantly better in key states.