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.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate