Minority Voter Turnout Spiked in 2018 Midterm

(CN) – The 2018 election was the most diverse midterm in U.S. history, bolstered by both high overall turnout and more Asian and Hispanic voters showing up to the polls, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data.

The Pew Research Center analysis released Wednesday shows more than half of the eligible voting population – 122 million people – cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, which represented the highest midterm turnout since 1978.

Notably, researchers saw spikes in turnout across racial and ethnic backgrounds – white, black, Asian and Hispanic voters increased turnout by more than 10 percentage points each since the 2014 midterms, which saw drops in turnout for each demographic.

Hispanic and Asian voters tended to vote in equal numbers according to the data, and both demographics featured the largest spike in turnout with a 13-point increase from about 27% four years ago to about 40%.

Though the universal spike in turnout was likely a product of high electoral enthusiasm during a tumultuous time in American politics, racial and ethnic minorities have become a larger percentage of the overall voting population, particularly Hispanic voters.

Of the 29 million eligible Hispanic voters in 2018, 11.7 million of them voted, which has closed the gap between eligible and actual voters among the Hispanic population. In 2014, 18.3 million eligible Hispanic voters did not cast a ballot. In 2018, 17.3 million eligible voters did not vote.

The number of Hispanic voters has nearly tripled since 1990, rising from 3.5% of the overall population to 9.6 percent. The percentage of Asian voters rose at roughly the same rate, though in smaller amounts overall, at 1.1% in 1990 and 3.5% in 2018.

In total, racial minorities accounted for 25% of all voters in last year’s election, making the midterm the most diverse in American history.

The data also indicates that while white voters also turned out in high percentages in 2018, the overall white population failed to match the increase seen among minority voters. As the percentage of minority voters has increased, the percentage of white voters has steadily decreased in the last three decades. They represented 85.2% of all voters in 1990 compared to 72.8% last year.

The historic demographical shift was bolstered not just by voters born in the U.S., but by naturalized citizens. In 2018, 44.2% of naturalized Hispanic voters cast a ballot versus the 39% of Hispanic voters born in the U.S. Similarly, 42.7% of naturalized Asian voters cast a ballot in 2018 versus the 36.7% of Asians born in the U.S.

Asian and Hispanic voters were also more likely to cast their ballot in early voting or by mail, according to the data. Among 2018 voters, 52% of Asians and 45% of Hispanics cast their ballot early or by mail, whereas less than 40% of black and white voters did the same. 

Though white voters still make up a significant majority of the overall voting population, the universal spike in turnout did not fully explain the spike in minority voting populations, particularly among Asians and Hispanics. Simply put, there are more minority voters who are actually voting with each passing midterm election, whereas white voters are failing to match increases in minority communities despite high turnout from white voters in 2018.

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