Who is Showing Up on Election Day in Virginia?

Oct 31, 2018

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Voters are about to head to the polls across Virginia, deciding a U.S. Senate race as well as several hotly contested congressional races. But, the universe of voters who shows up in a mid-term is not the same as a presidential year.

Virginians who are 65 and older are way more likely to show up at the polls and cast a ballot on Election Day. According to demographic voter trends compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, about half of seniors vote in every election. Compare that to only 4% of Virginians under the age of 30 who show up for every election.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says that creates a totally different universe of voters.

“Older white people tend to vote in every election, and they’re consistent across election years. But younger people tend to show up in presidential years and then kind of disappear the rest of the time.”

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says that has a huge impact.

“Politicians are much more likely to support senior citizens and causes of importance to them because they can count on seeing senior citizens at the polls every election.”

One potential bright spot for young voters -- early voting. Election officials have seen a 200% increase for people under the age of 25 casting in-person absentee ballots.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.