A staggering 36 million voters cast their ballots ahead of Election Day this year, setting the stage for much-higher-than-usual turnout for a midterm — and, potentially, big surprises on Tuesday night.
Republican enthusiasm for President Donald Trump and Democrats’ itch to repudiate him at the ballot box have driven people to the polls far faster than in 2014, when 27.2 million people voted early, according to Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracksvoter turnout.
And that trend is expected to extend into Election Day. Early voters in three states — Texas, Nevada and Arizona — have already surpassed total turnout in the last midterm election, McDonald’s data shows, and more states will blow past their normal non-presidential turnout with just a handful more votes on Election Day. The high voting rates have transformed expectations about who will show up in the midterms — and they could inspire results that diverge from any pre-election polls that did not reckon with this year’s unusually high enthusiasm.
“This is not a normal election,” McDonald told POLITICO. “The best guess is that we’re looking at some sort of hybrid midterm/presidential election” in terms of turnout.
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