TRUMP v. BIDEN: “ONCE IN A CENTURY” MASSIVE VOTER TURNOUT?


It is not difficult to find online “clocks” which are counting-down the time remaining before our nation’s Trump v. Biden presidential vote.

As I write, the countdown at “timeanddate” shows 54 days, 19 hours, 35 minutes and some seconds before our November 3rd election day.

Clearly, this election is huge to some – a lot? – of Americans. As The Brookings Institution underscores it …

“A new Pew Research Center survey released this week provides the most compelling evidence yet that turnout this November will be massive and that states will be challenged to complete timely counts of a record number of mail-in ballots.” (SEE article link below.)

And, the cited Pew Research article shares these related, comparative poll results …

“Prior to the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, just 50% of the voters thought that it really mattered who won, versus 44% who thought that things would be pretty much the same, whoever won. This year, a record 83%—including 85% of Democrats, 86% of Republicans—say that it really matters.”

I have researched presidential election turn-out projections for decades, and have never seen such numbers as 83% saying the upcoming election “really matters.”

To more broadly study presidential election voter turnout data, the American Presidency Project, a “non-partisan online source for presidential public documents,” is very helpful. (SEE link below).

(In such research, I focus on the turnout percentage among our voting age population “V.A.P.” – the far-right column of American Presidency Project data – rather than among those “eligible” to vote, “V.E.P.”.)

— In my adult lifetime, huge jumps in presidential election turnout within broad historical eras are rare. I have voted in all those elections between 1972 through 2016, and turnout has ranged within only 9.23 percentage points … from a low of 49.00% when President Clinton was re-elected in 1996 to a high of 58.23% when President Obama was first elected in 2008.

— Too, I have learned that presidential turnout variations are logically related. For example, it makes sense to me that turnout varied only 2.61-points between the mini-spike of 58.23% in President Obama’s 2008 “Great Recession” election and the 60.84% mini-spike when President Nixon was first elected in 1968 during heavy Vietnam War protests.

— More broadly, American presidential election turnout in my lifetime has been embarrassingly low. How do we explain that the last time even a paltry 60% of us bothered to vote for president was that 60.84% turnout in 1968?

— Finally, we should remember that the throw-down in 2016 which elected President Trump ended up with turnout of only 55.67% … less than one percent higher (0.80-points) than Obama’s 2012 54.87% re-election turnout against Romney.

Still and again, I have no explanation for the Pew Research poll results … that more than 8-of-10 Americans on each side of this battle now believe November 3rd will be a Presidential election which “really matters”.

That noted, let’s see how many really do go and vote.

What I can swear to is this: there has been no American election in my lifetime which was held in an atmosphere as noxious, if not dangerous, as today’s America.

To me, saying this election “really matters” seems a gross understatement.

© 2020 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Brookings Institution:
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/08/14/election-2020-a-once-in-a-century-massive-turnout/

The American Presidency Project:
https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/statistics/data/voter-turnout-in-presidential-elections

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