March 20, 2017
It turns out that voter turnout in last year’s US presidential election wasn’t as low as initially thought. A report analysing the voter statistics for the 2016 election was released this week by Nonprofit VOTE and the US Elections Project. It found that the national turnout of eligible voters was, in fact, the third highest since 1972, at 60.2%.
Put together every two years, the report analyses election statistics across the US. Highlights included revelations about the highest and lowest voter turnouts per state. In Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire over 70% of the electorate took the opportunity to cast their vote for the next US president. Unsurprisingly perhaps those with the highest number of voters are also the states that make it exceptionally easy for people to register and vote. This includes the ability to register or update their registration on the day they vote.
The lowest turnout was in Hawaii, where not even half of eligible voters made it to a voting booth, followed by West Virginia and Texas. All three stopped voter registration three or four weeks before the election.
As it happens, of the six states where the most voters turned out, five fell into the category of battleground states. There were 14 of these battleground states in the last election, so called because they were considered winnable by either party. Despite making up just one-third of the number of eligible voters nationwide, it’s here that both major political parties concentrated nearly all of their time, effort and resources.
Interestingly, though, of those 14 battleground states, just four took up nearly three-quarters of the campaign ad spending for each party. These were Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it wasn’t just money, but also the candidate’s time that these states gobbled up. More than half of the state visits by each of the candidates for the two main parties were to these four states.
Reasons for not voting
Some useful information on the election also came from a Pew Research Center survey. This seems to indicate that about one-quarter of those who did not vote were sure that their vote wouldn’t make a difference, and around 15% didn’t vote because they thought the election’s outcome was a foregone conclusion. Out of all the eligible voters in the US, around four in 10 chose not to cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election.
A close look at those who chose not to vote for one of the major parties showed that one out of every 12 voters aged 45 or less opted for an independent candidate. This gave the independents an eight percent share of all eligible young voters. This figure is more than twice the number of over 45-year-old voters who chose an independent candidate. And it indicates that perhaps the youth vote did swing the election, even if they didn’t intend to. It may have been the deciding factor in battleground states where the margins between the winning candidate and the second placed were slim.
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