Many people believe that the 2018 midterm elections are as important as any elections held in American history.
This assessment has not been done only by political scientists either. American voters have also given their opinions on the importance of this year’s elections by voting in the 2018 primaries in record numbers.
Over 40 million Americans have voted in party nominating primary elections this year, a huge increase from four years ago. And the majority of voters have been Democrats.
Through Thursday’s primary election in New York, 22.7 million Democrats had cast ballots in party primaries, compared with just 13.8 million in 2014. This is an increase of nearly 65%, which is an astounding number.
It is also a sign of unprecedented voter enthusiasm for the midterm elections to be held on November 6th, just 51 days away.
Of the total primary voters, 57% have been Democrats and just 43% have been Republicans.
Experts who study voting patterns have said that the higher turnout for primary elections is a sure sign that voters across the political spectrum are much more excited to take part in the midterms than in previous years. It could also mean that they are much more worried, and realize that they must participate in their democracy in order to keep their democracy.
Many believe that record high participation in Democratic primaries should cause Republicans to worry. The GOP is already facing some huge obstacles this midterm cycle, primarily because of the unpopularity of their president in the White House. Midterm elections almost always lead to losses in Congress for the party of the president.
But this year something feels different. There seems to be much more interest and involvement from young people and minority voters who usually don’t turn out for off year elections.
Thad Kousser, head of the political science department at the University of California-San Diego, had this to say:
“The surge in Democratic primary turnout shows that the party’s occasional voters are energized, which is an especially encouraging sign in a midterm because so many of these voters sit out anything but a presidential race.”
Another thing that’s happened this year is that Democrats have had a record number of candidates running in the primaries. There are many reasons for this, such as this is considered a “Blue Wave” year and so more people think they can win elected office. On top of that, there have been over 40 Republican House members who announced they are not seeking reelection, leaving a record high number of open congressional seats.
Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida, said:
“One reason we’re seeing higher turnout among Democrats in 2018 than in 2014 is that 2018 promises to be a good electoral environment for Democrats, so more candidates are contesting party nominations. Voters are more likely to participate in a competitive election than a non-competitive one.”
Democratic turnout has increased the most in states that are at the heart of the battle for control of Congress, which is a bad sign for Republicans who hope to hold on to their slim House majority.
Democratic turnout more than tripled in Minnesota and more than doubled in 14 states, including in House race hotbeds such as Colorado, New York, Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and Nevada.
High primary turnout is one more factor which indicates this could be a very strong year for Democrats. Recent surveys of the generic congressional ballot between unnamed Democratic and Republican candidates, all show Democrats leading by double-digits.
In some surveys nearly two-thirds of respondents said they want Congress to be more of a check on Trump’s agenda and they believe that the current Congress is not doing enough.
It is encouraging to see so many people — many of whom are first time voters — participating already in this year’s elections. It bodes well for our country and our democracy when both are being threatened by what is happening under the party currently in power in Washington, D.C..
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.