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Voter turnout in U.S. midterm elections by ethnicity 1966-2018

The U.S. midterm elections are general elections that are held in four year intervals, approximately two years after each presidential election. Midterm elections are used to determine all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, approximately one third of all Senate seats, two thirds of state governors, and a variety of local and municipal positions. Midterm elections traditionally have a much lower turnout than presidential elections, with turnout among U.S. adults ranging between 38 and 56 percent, compared with a range between 54 and 70 percent in presidential elections. Since 1964, white voters have consistently had the highest turnout rate in midterm elections, particularly non-Hispanic whites. Black voters have been voting at a similar rate to the national average in the past decade; although it is still just one percent below the national average. Since records became available, Asian and Hispanic voters have traditionally voted at a much lower rate than black or white voters, and have consistently had turnout rates at approximately half of the national average. The 2018 midterm elections saw an unprecedented increase in voter turnout, with the national average increasing by over ten percent; the high turnout in this election has been characterized as a reaction to "Trump's America", and saw significant gains for the Democratic Party, particularly for candidates who were female, non-white or members of the LGBT community.

Voter turnout rates* among select ethnicities in U.S. midterm elections from 1966 to 2018

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Release date

October 2019


United States

Survey time period

1966 to 2018

Supplementary notes

*Voter turnout figures relate to the share of eligible voters who take part in the election, and does not represent the share of the entire population (for example, under-18's, non-citizens, felons (rules vary)).
Residents in U.S. overseas territories are eligible to vote in general elections, but may not vote in the presidential election.

**Prior to 2004, data regarding to Asian voters included Pacific Islanders, therefore subsequent data may not be comparable with earlier numbers.

***Non-Hispanic whites are defined as European Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, and North African Americans, who do not have Hispanic ancestry.

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