Go to the U of M home page

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Turnout in the 2018 Minnesota General Election

Following reporting about Minnesota's 2018 general election, including postings on statewide races and state representative races, today the IMO blog continues its coverage, looking into voter turnout, which was historically high for a midterm election. Turnout rates were highest in the Twin Cities metro and for women across the state, together significantly helping Democrats gain victories in races across statewide offices. 

Election Turnout Trends

A common occurrence with election cycles is that the percentage of residents turning out to vote dips during midterm elections. This decline in turnout, however, did not happen at the same level in the 2018 election, as it did in previous midterms in 2010 and 2014, as shown in the chart below.  Places across Minnesota had higher turnout, with some locations outpacing others in gaining votes.

In 2018, the Twin Cities suburbs had the highest turnout rates in the state, nearly 65%, a rate much higher than in the prior two midterm elections. The combined cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had the next highest rate, about 58%, slightly surpassing the overall Outstate vote for the first time since 2008 when Obama first was elected as U.S. President. 

Turnout in Outstate Minnesota was much lower than in the Twin Cities suburbs, equally lower in both the cities of Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud and in the remaining Outstate area. This was unlike the other midterm elections, when these central cities lagged the rest of Outstate by 5 to 10 percentage points

The turnout rate was calculated taking the total number of votes for president and total votes for governor (during the midterm) divided into the number of persons age 18 and over.  
The Twin Cities suburbs includes municipalities from Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott Washington and Wright Counties, and does not include Chisago and Isanti Counties because their data was not reported in the sample data.
Data is from the Minnesota Secretary of State and U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1 year sample data.

The chart below better shows the differences in the magnitude of change between 2018 and the prior two elections. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had the largest increase in voter turnout from the last midterm, an increase of 17.3 percentage points in the turnout rate from 2014. The Twin Cities suburbs and the other Outstate central cities also had double digit increases in the turnout rate, while the rest of Outstate Minnesota had a significant increase, but one that was comparably smaller than other locations--about half that of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As is typical between a presidential and midterm election, turnout rates dropped between 2016 and 2018, but fell far less than usual, as shown on the chart above.  As shown on the chart below, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had the smallest drop off, only -5.8 points, followed by the Twin Cities suburbs (-8.8) and other central cities (-7.9). The drop in the turnout rate was largest in the non-central city portion of Outstate Minnesota (-10.6).

Election Turnout Geography

The map below shows the percentage of the voting age population that cast a ballot for governor in 2018 by Minnesota municipalities. Such turnout was high across the state with clusters of very high turnout (rates of 80 percent or more) scattered across the state. The county inset on the map shows that turnout was somewhat greater in Northeast, North Central, West and Southeast Minnesota. More important to the accumulation of votes, is the cluster of high turnout municipalities in the more populous 11-county Twin Cities metro area. As shown on the map's charts, turnout was significantly higher in the Twin Cities (62.7%) than in Outstate Minnesota (57.2%).
Click to view pdf version of map

In the Twin Cities' metro, turnout was above average in most municipalities throughout the area, but was consistently high (rates of 70% or more) in outer ring suburbs near the edge of the built up urban area, except on the north edge of the metro. Many first and second ring suburbs also had high turnout rates, with first-ring Edina and Mendota Heights having rates in excess of 80%. 

While Minneapolis' turnout rate was higher than average, and St. Paul's was lower than average, as shown on the map above, there are major differences in turnout when breaking the cities out by state legislative districts, as does the map below. Here turnout rates were high in more affluent districts in South Minneapolis and in Southwest St. Paul, but were lower in North and South Central (Phillips) Minneapolis, as well as in the North End and East Side of St. Paul, places with greater concentrations of racial minorities and poverty. Turnout rates also tended to be lower in inner-ring suburbs adjacent to low turnout city districts, most notably Brooklyn Center.
Click to view pdf version of map

How much did turnout change the results of the 2018 Election?

Changes in midterm voter turnout patterns (2014-2018) between Minnesota locations did benefit Democrats. Calculated from the data above, Democrats in statewide races gained 1 to 2 percentage points in the share of total votes, more than they would have if the 2014 turnout rates prevailed in 2018.  This figure is based on voters turning out across municipalities at the same rate as they did in 2014 and with shares of voting across parties kept the same as in 2018.

Who turned out to vote also impacted the election, and in this regard, women led the way in helping the Democrats gain victories, while demographics such as age and income had less of an impact in the statewide racesDemocrats in statewide races gained around an additional percentage point of the total share of the vote, more than they would have if the total vote share for women remained the same as 2014's, and if women's vote share across parties in 2018 was held constant.

Data used to calculate the share of women voting comes from NBC exit polls for Minnesota in 2014 and 2018. The chart below shows the results for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Al Franken, and in it the percentage share of the total vote by gender (columns) and the percentage of votes for parties by men and women in the last two midterm elections (column sections).  

The share of of the total vote by women climbed from 51% in 2014 to 54% in 2018. Just as important, the share of women voting for Democrats rose from 58% to 61%. A large part of the gain was due to the increase of 'Independent' women voters who gained a 3 percentage point share of the total vote between 2014 and 2018, and whose Democratic voting percentage was 60%--a full 10 percentage points higher than it was in 2014. 

Similar demographic trends found in this U.S. Senate special election race can be found in the State Governor and U.S. Senate (Klobachar's seat) elections, with women increasing in the share of the total votes and increasingly voting Democratic. 

While changes in turnout between locations and genders helps explain roughly one-third of the Democratic margins of victory in 2018, it is notable that voters tended to more often cast ballots for Democrats in statewide elections than they did in the last midterm, regardless of their location or their demographic profiles.

1 comment:

  1. t's interesting to note that while discussing the 2018 Minnesota General Election turnout, technology and digital platforms have played a significant role in shaping political discourse and engagement. In today's interconnected world, technology has become a powerful tool for sharing information, expressing opinions, and mobilizing communities. Platforms like APKSOLDIER, which offer a variety of apps related to video editing and games, can contribute to the broader conversation by providing individuals with creative outlets and entertainment options. In the context of discussing the election, such platforms could be relevant as they can empower individuals to create engaging visual content, share their perspectives, and even explore games that touch upon political themes or promote civic awareness.