Monday, January 11, 2016

Who Votes In American Elections ?

The 2016 election will depend a lot on who shows up to vote, so I thought this was interesting. It is from the Pew Research Center. They looked at demographic groups -- both is the percentage of the population (determined by the U.S. Census) and the percentage of 2014 voters (according to 2014 national exit poll).

As expected, some groups failed to vote up to their percentage of the population -- which means their voice was diluted in the election. Other groups voted in a greater percentage than their percentage of the population -- which means their voice was increased beyond what it should have been.

I was a bit surprised to see that women and men voted exactly as their proportion of the population in 2014 (52% to 48%). That's a change, since several past elections have seen women voting beyond their percentage of the population and men voting below theirs. Women still have a larger voice, but only because they outnumber men in this country.

When it comes to race, Whites both beyond the population percentage, Blacks vote about equal to theirs, and Hispanics vote significantly less than their population percentage.

There are real differences among age groups also. While those under 40 make up 38% of the population, they were only 24% of 2014 voters. Those 40-49 voted equal to their population percentage. Those over 50 voted in a much larger percentage than their population percentage. They compromise 45% of the population, but made up 59% of voters.

As the charts show, there are also differences according to education (with voter participation going up as education level rises) and income (where those making the least vote significantly less than do those at least middle class).

Will these participation levels hold in the 2016 election? It is a presidential election, so there will undoubtably be a bigger turnout overall -- but that doesn't necessarily mean the participation percentages will change. It will be interesting to see what happens though.

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