November 6, 2018
One of the most highly-anticipated and bitterly contested midterm elections is today. Here are a few observations as we wait for results:
With over 40 million Americans having cast early ballots in 2018, early turnout and mail ballot counts have smashed previous years' figures. In fact, early voting is up almost 45% over the 2014 midterm election. In Texas and Nevada, early voting has eclipsed total voter turnout in 2014. So what does it all mean? Some pollsters suggest that the dramatic jump in early votes could signal a larger than expected "blue wave". Others data scientists warn against making such predictions and don't use early voting figures at all in their projections.
The year of the woman
A record 53 women ran for Senate in 2018 and 476 women ran for office in the House. Twenty two of the 53 running for Senate won party nominations and 235 women won their House primaries. That makes a total of 257 women on ballots today for service in the 116th Congress. And let's not forget about the power female voters hold this year. Women aged 18-44 are expected to be a critical demographic in dozens of races around the country. Four in ten women in that age bracket saying they are "more enthusiastic" about voting this year than any previous election. Polling shows that twice as many women aged 18-44 identify as Democrats versus Republicans so the GOP has its work cut out to capture this key voter group today.
Big names on the stump
If you weren't aware of the massive implications of today's midterms, just take a look at who's been on the campaign trail. National figures including President Trump, former President Obama and former VP Joe Biden have inserted themselves into races across the country with intensity that has not historically been seen in midterm elections. President Trump alone has hit the campaign trail hard, recently undertaking several grueling multi-stop travel days for campaign rallies. For the Democrats, Joe Biden has been spotted knocking on doors and helping with canvassing efforts.
Turnout, turnout, turnout
Every political novice knows that turnout is always critical to victory but seasoned observers have noticed a trend that may be encouraging to Democrats in 2018. In every special election in both 2017 and 2018, Democrats have increased their turnout compared to relative turnout increase for Republicans. Sign of a blue wave? Some pollsters say yes. But not so fast. Donald Trump has mostly managed to dominate the headlines, even without his name on the ballot today. Most political observers see turnout driven by enthusiasm for—and against the President. Will President Trump's star power and economic successes help the GOP hold their majorities? We'll know soon enough!
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