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.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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