Q&A on the News

Q: I heard President Barack Obama say something about “the two-thirds that didn’t vote.” How many voted this time compared to previous elections? Was it similar? Or was it more or less?

—Ricardo C. Newball, Atlanta

A: There generally is a lower voter turnout for midterm elections, like this year, compared to years in which the U.S. elects a president. About 83 million people voted in the Nov. 4 election, or about 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population (VEP), according to preliminary numbers from the Associated Press and the United States Elections Project (www.electproject.org), run by Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida.

“One change that will happen is eventually I will have total votes counted for nearly all states,” McDonald told Q&A on the News in an email. He expects the “turnout rate for the total votes counted to be about a percentage point higher than the turnout rate for the vote for highest office.” If the numbers don’t change, this would be the lowest voter turnout for a midterm election in the U.S. since 1942, when 33.9 percent of the VEP voted.

About 90 million people voted in the last midterm election in 2010, or about 41.8 percent of the VEP. About 129 million people voted in 2012 (58.6 percent), when President Obama ran for reelection, which was down from the 132 million (62.2 percent), who voted in 2008, according to McDonald’s numbers.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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