Politics

Voter Turnout Hit 20-Year Low In 2016

| by Robert Fowler

Despite the historic stakes of the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout was at its lowest in two decades, adding a curious undercurrent to the massive political power that President-elect Donald Trump is about to enjoy.

Not all ballots have been counted, but so far election officials have determined that roughly 126 million votes were cast on Nov. 8. That only accounts for 55 percent of voting age citizens in the American electorate, CNN reports.

The last election to culminate in such a depressed turnout was in 1996, when only 53.5 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot. 2016 will be a drastic drop from turnout in 2008, when voter engagement hit a historical peak with 64 percent.

While overall turnout slumped in this election cycle, it surged past 2012 levels in the swing-states that secured Trump’s victory. Compared to four years ago, voter turnout was higher in Florida, Michigan and North Carolina.

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The low national turnout defies the amount of interest Americans had in the presidential race. 85 percent of registered voters were closely following the election, four percentage points higher than the previous peak of 2008, according to Pew Research Center.

Based on the current amount of ballots counted, President-elect Trump received less votes than former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts in 2012 and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008, according to The Washington Post.

While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received roughly 6 million fewer votes than President Barack Obama did in 2012, she still won the popular vote in this race, scoring 59.9 percent of ballots while Trump netted 59.7 percent.

On Oct. 27, Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon stated that a key strategy for their team was to discourage turnout among key Democratic voting blocs.

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“We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” Bannon told Bloomberg, stating that the campaign was focused on depressing turnout among white liberals, young women and African Americans.

It appears that the strategy worked. Overall, President-elected Trump has been elected by less than 26 percent of eligible voters.

While this may call into question whether or not the business mogul actually has a mandate, he will largely be able to execute his presidential agenda as he sees fit with a Republican-controlled Congress.

Sources: BloombergCNN, Pew Research Center, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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