2016 presidential vs. 2018
House
Senate
Governor

Not close

Came close

Exceeded

10+ pt drop

Within 10pts

Beat 2016

No race, uncontested race, less than 99%

precincts reporting, or pop. too small to

confidently estimate turnout change.

Or click on a county to zoom
Or double tap on a county to zoom

Highly competitive races throughout the country saw voters turn out in record numbers for the 2018 midterms. Many parts of the country neared and some exceeded their vote totals for the 2016 presidential election. Search for your county in the map above.

It was a wave year for Democrats in the House, where they picked up 40 seats with one race still outstanding. But Republican turnout was high as well, giving the election the highest overall turnout for a midterm in 50 years.

The turnout gap between 2018 and 2016 was relatively small

75% turnout

Turnout in previous

presidential election

60.1%

50

50.3%

Midterm turnout

36.7%

2018 turnout was much higher than 2014

25

0

2002

midterm

2006

midterm

2010

midterm

2014

midterm

2018

midterm

The turnout gap between 2018 and 2016 was relatively small

75% turnout

Turnout in previous

presidential election

60.1%

50

50.3%

Midterm turnout

36.7%

2018 turnout was much higher than 2014 turnout

25

0

2002

midterm

2006

midterm

2010

midterm

2014

midterm

2018

midterm

The turnout gap between 2018 and 2016 was relatively small

75% turnout

Turnout in previous

presidential election

60.1%

50

50.3%

Midterm turnout

36.7%

2018 turnout was much higher than 2014 turnout

25

0

2002

midterm

2006

midterm

2010

midterm

2014

midterm

2018

midterm

The turnout gap between 2018 and 2016 was relatively small

75% turnout

Turnout in previous

presidential election

60.1%

50

50.3%

Midterm turnout

36.7%

2018 turnout was much higher than 2014 turnout

25

0

2002

midterm

2006

midterm

2010

midterm

2014

midterm

2018

midterm

The vote totals in the map above come from the Associated Press and may not be 100 percent complete as states are still in the process of certifying their results. The size of the voting population is estimated using the Census estimate for 18-year-old residents in each county who are citizens of the United States. Some states revoke voting rights for felons – those cuts into the voting population are not accounted for in our analysis.

The surge in turnout was not uniform throughout the country. Texas and Georgia were two of the states that saw the biggest increases, driven by the high-profile statewide campaigns. Democrats fell short in the Texas Senate race and Georgia governor’s race, but the turnout they spurred may have aided the party’s net gain of three House seats in the two states. Turnout in Georgia was especially remarkable given actions by Secretary of State Brian Kemp (also the Republican candidate for governor) to purge voters from the rolls and block absentee ballots.

House

Senate

Governor

No

Race

Montana

North

Dakota

No

Race

South

Dakota

No

Race

House

Senate

Governor

No

Race

Montana

North

Dakota

No

Race

South

Dakota

No

Race

House

Senate

Governor

No

Race

Montana

No

Race

North

Dakota

No

Race

South

Dakota

House

Senate

Governor

No

Race

Montana

No

Race

North

Dakota

No

Race

South

Dakota

Turnout was also high compared to 2016 in the Great Plains states of Montana and North Dakota. These states aren’t closely contested in presidential elections, but featured major 2018 Senate races. South Dakota had no Senate seat up for election in 2018 but did have a highly competitive governor’s race.

Conversely, Louisiana and North Carolina saw a relatively large decline in turnout from 2016, thanks to a lack of statewide races. Kentucky didn’t have any statewide races either, but a competitive House race in its 6th District drove high turnout around Lexington.

Turnout in Mississippi also took a hit. The state has some of the worst voting access laws in the country, which don’t allow for early access voting or no-excuse absentee voting. The state’s House races were not closely contested, and the special Senate race for Thad Cochran's seat was widely expected to go to a runoff (which it did, with Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith triumphing over Democrat Mike Espy).

Governor

Senate

House

Nev.

Nev.

Nev.

Cali.

Cali.

Cali.

Governor

Senate

House

Nev.

Nev.

Nev.

Cali.

Cali.

Cali.

Governor

Senate

House

Nev.

Nev.

Nev.

Cali.

Cali.

Cali.

Governor

Senate

House

Nev.

Nev.

Nev.

Cali.

Cali.

Cali.

One interesting case was California, where turnout was high for House and governor elections but depressed for the Senate race. Thanks to the state’s unique primaries, both Senate candidates were Democrats, and presumably many Republicans abstained from voting for either.

Democrats hope that the patterns in turnout portend well for the 2020 presidential election. Michigan and Wisconsin – two states that were critical to President Trump’s electoral victory – had strong Democratic turnout that flipped several House seats blue. And despite the losses by Abrams and O’Rourke, Democrats are optimistic that the turnout trends mean Texas and Georgia might become presidentially competitive for the first time in years.

Tim Meko contributed to this report.

About this story

Map data from Mapbox. Population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and voting data from the Associated Press. Turnout data for past elections from the United States Election Project. Counties that voted in multiple House elections were split into partial counties, and then the vote totals for each part were summed. If one or more county partial had an uncontested race, but not all county partials in a complete county, then the county-wide figure represents only the part of the county that had a competitive election, and the voting-age population is calculated only for those partials. Counties where the population was less than 1,000 and the change in turnout was less than the margin of error for the Census population estimate were not included in the final data, as any change in turnout could be entirely attributable to a change in population. For states with multiple senate races, the average turnout of both races was used.

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