Everyone knows that midterm election voters differ from presidential election voters. First, voter turnout is higher in presidential years. Second, voters in midterm elections are more interested in politics and more partisan. Third, voters in midterm elections differ demographically from voters in presidential elections. Using exit polls from the 2014 midterm election and the 2016 presidential election, let’s compare the voters.
First, in terms of voter turnout, only 4,727,181 Texans voted—28.29 percent of the voting eligible population (VEP) —in the 2014 gubernatorial election in Texas. In 2016, 8,909,497 Texans—50.98 percent of the VEP—voted in the 2016 presidential election in Texas. The charts depict the difference in participation levels:
To compare the electorates demographically, we’ll use exit polls. The tables compare the electorate in terms of race/ethnicity, party identification, ideology, education, gender, age, and income. Note the salient differences.
Ethnicity: Note that the Anglo percentage of the voters was much higher in 2014 than in 2016 (66% vs. 57%). On the other hand, the Hispanic percentage was much lower in 2014 than in 2016 (17% vs. 24%). Furthermore, the percentage of the Asian American vote, which was not calculated in 2014, was 5 percent in 2016. There was no real change in the percentage of the African American vote.
Partisanship: The percentage of Democrats was higher in 2016 than in 2014 (29% vs. 27%); the percentage of independents was slighter lower in 2016 than in 2014 (33% vs. 35%); the percentage of Republicans was the same in both elections (38%).
Ideology: Differences in ideology were similar to differences in partisanship. Liberals were a slightly higher percentage in 2016 than in 2014 (20% vs. 18%). The percentage of moderates was lower in 2016 than in 2014 (36% vs. 38%). The percentage of conservatives was the same in both elections (44%).
Education: There is little difference in the data; however, comparison is made difficult by the use of a different category for less educated voters (HS graduate vs. HS or less). The percentages of college graduates and postgraduates are higher in 2014 than in 2016 (38% vs. 34% and 19% vs. 17%, respectively).
Gender: The female percentage of the voters in 2016 was higher in 2016 than in 2014 (54% vs. 51%).
Age: The youngest age category constituted a higher percentage of the voters in 2016 than in 2014 (10% vs. 6%). There was no difference in the percentage of 25-29-year-olds between 2014 and 2016. Among 30-39-year-olds, there was a slight increase in 2016 over 2014 (19% vs. 17%). There were fewer 50-64-year-olds and 65 and older voters in 2016 than in 2014 (28% vs. 32% and 19% vs. 15%, respectively).
Income: There were fewer voters in the $50K-$100K category in 2016 than in 2014 (31% vs. 39%). There were more voters in the 200K and higher category in 2016 than in 2014 (13% vs. 9%).
What conclusions do you draw from the data?