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Percent of citizens voting in presidential and midterm elections

Age and education level are among the strongest predictors of whether a voter will show up at the polls for the midterms. Older voters and those who have completed more years of education return to the polls at much higher rates than others. Among Americans 18 to 29 years old with bachelor's degrees, turnout dropped from 71 percent in 2008 — when the presidency was at stake — to 36 percent in 2010.

Turnout dropped sharply among the youngest African Americans (31 percentage points), but also among young whites (27 points). Asian American voters tend to have low turnout regardless of election year, trailing all other racial and ethnic groups.

SOURCE: Washington Post analysis of Census Bureau Current Population Survey, using IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota. For race/ethnicity, tabulations for African American and Asian exclude Hispanics and those identifying as multiple races. Asian American refers to Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Turnout rates differ depending how to define the voting-eligible population. In this analysis, the Voting-eligible population (VEP) is the percentage of all voting-age U.S. citizens reported voting in each post-election Current Population Survey.