Politicians change, issues may change, but, every election cycle we hear similar themes. Voter enthusiasm is always one of them. It matters, but rarely to the extent that it’s hyped in media. Take the past four Presidential elections for example. Here’s the voter turnout by year:
- 2004: 56%
- 2008: 58%
- 2012: 55%
- 2016: 56%
The difference in participation has been 3% top to bottom. In other words, the same people who typically vote in a given election will continue to vote in a given election with only a slight variance between cycles. The range for midterm elections has been similar in range with the lower turnout you’d expect in a lower profile election. 36%-41%.
For these reasons and the fact that only 64% of eligible adults are even registered to vote, voter turnout is often exaggerated. But then again, in close elections, a little can mean a lot. There are many close elections expected in Florida and across the country, 3%-5% changes in participation could be decisive if the enthusiasm is greater for a particular party. According to the Pew Research Center, we have record voter enthusiasm for midterm elections. Voters in both political parties are more enthusiastic about the midterms than at any time prior since enthusiasm has been surveyed and the edge currently goes to Democrats. 67% of Democrats are enthusiastic compared to 59% of Republicans.
It’s a record for both parties. The previous high for Republicans was 57% in the 2010 Tea Party-led, midterm elections. For Democrats, their high was in 2006 at just 42% and for comparison's sake, only 36% of Democrats said they were enthusiastic in 2014. Republicans have historically been more reliable voters in midterms, so this surge among Democrats could prove decisive. If, for example, turnout rises 5% higher than the 2014 midterms, with the majority of the additional voters being Democrats, you get the picture in close elections.
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