It really was, as Taylor Jones points out, rather quite stupid.
General election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest it’s been in any election cycle since World War II, according to early projections by the United States Election Project.
Just 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots as of last Tuesday, continuing a steady decline in midterm voter participation that has spanned several decades. The results are dismal, but not surprising — participation has been dropping since the 1964 election, when voter turnout was at nearly 49 percent.
The last time voter turnout was so low during a midterm cycle was in 1942, when only 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
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The abysmally low turnout in last week’s midterm elections — the lowest in more than seven decades — was bad for Democrats, but it was even worse for democracy. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote, and no state broke 60 percent.
In the three largest states — California, Texas and New York — less than a third of the eligible population voted. New York’s turnout was a shameful 28.8 percent, the fourth-lowest in the country, despite three statewide races (including the governor) and 27 House races.
Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns.
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Despite a larger population and a contested race for an open gubernatorial seat, turnout in the state of Texas was reportedly down this year, as compared to the last mid-term election in 2010, by more than a quarter of a million votes.
That data point — a decrease of some 271,000 total voters this year — is one of several, at least anecdotal early indicators that suggest the Texas GOP’s strategy of suppressing the vote this year with polling place Photo ID restrictions seems to have worked.
DelReal, Jose A. “Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest since WWII”. The Washington Post. 10 November 2014.
New York Times Editorial Board. “The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years”. The New York Times. 11 November 2014.
Friedman, Brad. “Texas GOP’s voter ID ploy ‘worked’: Turnout way down, provisional ballots way up”. Salon. 13 November 2014.
Image credit: Detail of cartoon by Taylor Jones, 14 November 2014, via Cagle Post.