Voter Turnout Was Spectacular This Year — But Not in California

NOTE: This post is totally wrong. A corrected post is here.

For the past two months I’ve heard nothing except hoots and hollers about how voter turnout this year is going to be amazing. Excitement is sky high! Early voting is tremendous! Lines to vote are miles long!

And apparently everyone was right. Edison estimates that voter turnout reached 49 percent in 2018, the highest in a midterm election in the past 40 years:

On the other hand, here in the center of the Resistance voter turnout was dismal, the worst in 40 years. This is almost certainly because of our crappy top-two primary, which makes most of our statewide offices completely uninteresting. We had plenty of good local races and plenty of ballot initiatives this year, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the fact that both the Senate race and the Governor’s race were foregone conclusions.

[UPDATE: I’m reliably told that the California numbers only include the ballots counted so far. The final number will probably be at least 3-5 points higher than it is in my chart. This is still not great, but at least it’s better than 2014.]

Moral of the story: If you want people to turn out to vote, you need to give them something interesting to vote for. Here in California we rarely do that anymore. We should go back to an ordinary primary system that allows Democrats and Republicans to pick their candidates separately. Maybe then we could persuade people to get out and vote.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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