Election Demographics and Voter Turnout

Breaking down demographic data, the diversifying U.S. population, and what it means for the 2022 elections and beyond

Election Demographics and Voter Turnout

July 13, 2022

The United States is growing increasingly diverse. According to 2020 Census data, 57.8% of the population identify as “white, not Hispanic or Latino,” as opposed to 63.7% in the 2010 Census, and 69.1% in 2000. It’s estimated that by 2045, fewer than 50% of the population will be non-Hispanic white.

Naturally, as the population becomes more diverse, so does the electorate. In a new report, we use U.S. Census data and projections to analyze how the demographics of eligible voters and the population as a whole have evolved in recent years and will continue to change. We also take a look at trends in voter turnout, examine congressional districts by race, income level, and education level, and explore how congressional reapportionment and redistricting after the 2020 Census will impact elections in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.

[To take a deeper dive into these complex issues, download the full report.]

U.S. Population vs. Voting-Eligible Population

While the overall U.S. population identifies 57.8% white, not Hispanic or Latino, among those who reported being registered to vote in the 2020 election, non-Hispanic whites made up 70.3%.

This difference is related to a number of factors, including:

  • Citizenship: 98.3% of non-Hispanic white adults were citizens at the time of the election vs. 72.1% of Hispanic/Latino adults, the next largest race or ethnicity demographic.
  • Age: The median age of the non-Hispanic white population is 44, according to Pew Research data, the oldest of any racial or ethnic group. Meanwhile the median age of the U.S. population overall is 38, and the median age of the Hispanic/Latino population, which has long been one of the youngest racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., is 30. This means that a larger portion of minority populations are under the age of 18. In fact, according to the 2020 Census, 52.7% of the U.S. population under 18 belong to a minority group compared to 39.2% over 18.

Though 2020 was consistent with previous elections in that Hispanic/Latino voters had the lowest reported voting and registration rates, it did mark a historic milestone. For the first time, more than 50% of eligible Hispanic/Latino voters reported voting – 53.7% to be exact.

According to researchers at the City University of New York:

The surge in both registration and voting rates described here suggest that Latinos are poised to exert political influence in the U.S. commensurate with their share of the population. The midterm elections and the presidential election of 2024 may confirm that the often-called ‘sleeping giant’ of U.S. electoral politics is ready to emerge in full force.

[For more coverage of the midterms and how they’ll impact the congressional balance of power, government affairs, and policy making, visit our 2022 midterm congressional elections page.]

Voter Turnout in Recent Elections

In terms of who participates in elections, the numbers are similarly disproportionate compared to the overall population. Among people who reported voting in 2020 election, for example, 71% were white, 10.7% were Hispanic or Latino, 12.2% were Black, and 4.4% were Asian.

Race/Ethnicity of 2020 Reported Voters Compared to U.S. Population

As we approach the 2022 midterm elections, we can look back to stats from the most recent midterms, in 2018, which produced record-breaking turnout. It drew the highest percentage since 1914, according to data compiled by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald. At 53.4%, turnout was more than 11 percentage points higher than in the 2014 midterm election. This record turnout was largely driven by a marked increase in young voters.

2014 vs. 2018 Midterm Voter Turnout by Age

The 2020 presidential election drew a relatively high turnout – the highest since the 1992 presidential election – which was also largely driven by young voters.

2016 vs. 2020 Presidential Voter Turnout by Age

What does this mean for 2022? Young voter turnout will likely be pivotal.

In terms of outcomes, the sitting president’s party typically fares poorly in midterm elections. Younger voters also tend to lean more Democratic than older voters. Precedent and any hit to the young voter turnout in 2022 could spell trouble for President Joe Biden and Democrats.

[To learn more about demographics at the congressional district level, voter turnout, and the impact of redistricting, download the full report.]

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