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Young people, women, voters in cities: how Democrats won in 2018, by the numbers

We now have the official census numbers on voter turnout for 2018.

A view of a voter registration booth at a Teen Vogue event in June 2018.
The voter registration booth details at the Teen Vogue Summit 2018.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

Five months after Democrats swept the midterms with historic wins across the country, we have a better picture of how they did it: In 2018, more young people, women, educated Americans, and people in cities voted.

It wasn’t just those groups: New election data from the US Census Bureau showed voter turnout increased across the board, among all ages, races, and educational groups and by gender. It was the highest voter turnout in a midterm election in four decades.

But those numbers, broken down by demographic, show how the 2018 electorate played to Democrats’ favor. Here are four key takeaways:

  • Young people drove voter turnout increases. Nearly 36 percent of 18- to 29-year-old citizens reported voting — a 16 percent jump from 2014, when only 20 percent of the youngest voters turned out to the polls. Adults ages 30 to 44 also increased voter turnout by 13 percent.
  • Voter turnout increased more among voters with college degrees than among those without. Voters with more education have historically had higher voter turnout than those without, and that dynamic was amplified last year.
  • More voters in urban areas — 54 percent of citizens — reported voting than those who live outside of metro areas. That’s in sharp contrast to 2014, when people in rural areas voted slightly more than those in urban areas, by 44 percent to 42 percent.
  • Lastly, overall, more women (55 percent) turned out to vote than men (52). More notably, turnout among young women was higher than among young men — a data point that flipped with older voters, where more men cast ballots than women.

As Barry Burden, a political scientist with the University of Wisconsin Madison, pointed out on Twitter, “the future (of voting) is apparently female.”

If these trends continue, it’s a good sign for Democrats; they have a long history of winning over younger voters and women by huge numbers, as well as having a strong hold on urban areas.