03 November 2020

Today Is The Day

Today is election day here in the United States. My daughter who graduated from college last spring has an election related job, so getting out the vote today will consume her.

Nationwide, pre-election day turnout has been 99.6 million, which is 38.7% of the voting age population and 42% of the population eligible to vote, a new record. 

CNN says early voting was even higher (and includes Monday voting): 102.7 million votes cast (48% of registered voters and 75% of the 2016 votes cast). Early news today also tends to indicate that election day voter turnout is high. 

At least seven states, including Texas, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Montana and Oregon, have surpassed their total turnout from the 2016 general election in recent days. 

In an additional seven states and DC, the pre-election vote represents at least 90% of their 2016 total vote – Utah, New Mexico, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. . . . 

39 states and Washington, DC have crossed their halfway marks for total 2016 ballots cast [in early voting], including 14 of  CNN’s 16 most competitively-ranked states - Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio.
In raw numbers, in 2016, turnout was 138,847,000 which was 55.5% of the voting age population. This percentage of the voting age population in 2020 would be 143 million. To set a record for turnout as a percentage of voting age population post-1968 would require more than 147 million people to vote (which would be 61.9% of population eligible to vote).

So, if 37 million people vote today, we'll set a record for raw turnout, if 41 million people vote today, we'll surpass 2016 in terms of percentage of the voting age population, and if 45 million people vote today, we'll set a post-26th Amendment record for turnout as a percentage of voting age population. A turnout of 45 million people today is hardly impossible or even unlikely.

Turnout in early voting has been record setting with several states exceeding their total 2016 election turnout in early voting including Hawaii, Texas, Washington State and Montana. Many other states go into today with 90% or more of 2016 turnout.

The weather across the U.S. is almost perfect, with warm temperatures for the fall (highs in the 70s for most of the U.S.) and almost no precipitation anywhere (possible a little rain in Washington State where they don't have in person voting anyway and more people have voted than in 2016 already).

It isn't clear how all of that translates to election day, however. 

Many Republicans influenced by President Trump's wrongful denigration of mail-in voting have waited until election day to vote, while Democrats and unaffiliated voters have disproportionately voted early. Especially in some Northeastern and Midwestern states, early voting has been less accessible. And, even in mail-in voting states, there are always some people who wait until the last minute to drop off their ballots. 

But some early voting clearly reflects people who would otherwise have voted on election day and will now not do so.

In Colorado, we are close to setting a state turnout record of 80% of active registered voters. Colorado's voter turnout was second in the nation in 2016. The high turnout is mostly due to well run system of all mail-in voting.

The higher the turnout, the less well off Republicans are likely to do, not just in the Presidential race, but across the board.


The 26th Amendment which gave 18-20 years olds the right to vote if federal elections, rather than 21+ year olds only, took effect in 1971. In 1968, the voter turnout as a percentage of voting age population was 60.7% and it dropped to 55.1% in 1971.

Since the 26th Amendment was adopted, the highest turnout as a percentage of the voting age population was 57.1% in 2008. The runner up was 55.7% of the voting age population in 2004, with 2016 in third place.

This year, the voting age population is 257.6 million of whom 237.3 million are eligible to vote.

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