BY DEVIN HEFLIN
The Presidential elections of 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 produced a large turnout for voting bases on both sides. Floridians have long casted ballots for President and the state has become a defining factor in the outcome of Presidential elections.
Florida was instrumental in the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992.
In 2008, twenty-one million people nationwide voted in then Senator Barack Obama to the Presidency. This number represented the highest ever turnout in America for a Presidential election.
This number is somewhat fractionalized however when midterm elections, or, off-year elections occur.
A white paper compiled by the Rasmussen reports chronicles this downward trend in non-Presidential election years.
According to available data, the last time midterm turnout exceeded the previous presidential election was in 1838, when 70.8% of the eligible population voted versus the 56.5% who voted in the 1836 presidential election.
Ever since, presidential turnout has always exceeded midterm turnout. Since the 26th Amendment to the Constitution expanded the franchise to all eligible citizens 18 years or older, 1994-1996 was the closest midterm turnout has been to presidential turnout — 41.1% of the voting-eligible population (VEP) cast ballots in the 1994 midterm and just 51.7% of the VEP voted in the 1996 presidential contest.
On average, midterm turnout has been about 17 percent lower than the presidential turnouts in the 26th Amendment era.
Another finding of the report indicates that midterm elections are less racially diverse statistically.There is also a gender gap in voter turnout in midterm elections. “What we’ve found is that Florida, though growing in midterm turnout, still does not mirror the whole of the voting populace.” Said Bill Cowles, Orange County’s Supervisor of Elections.
“Your municipal and state changes derive from these midterm elections. “ Cowles said.
Notice the midterm difference between 2006, when Democrats lost by just four among whites, to 2010 and 2014, when Democrats lost by more than 20 points in each. While the 2018 midterm electorate should be the most diverse ever because of broader demographic changes, roughly three-quarters of the voters next year likely will be white.
In Florida’s midterm elections of 2014, the state in total ranked sixteenth highest in voter turnout, with thirty-three percent voter turnout.
One such race was the matchup of then candidate Regina Hill against Juan Lynum for Orlando’s District 5 in April of that year. Hill, now the Commissioner, defeated Lynum by four-hundred and fifty-three votes.
A poor turnout was cited during that election period, which many attributed to the weather of that day.
“Many voters may possibly feel that if they don’t see a Presidential candidates name on the ballot, the off year elections don’t matter.” Said Ken Detzner, Florida Secretary of State.
“Voters are urged to exercise their rights to their democracy.” Detzner said.
Comparison of midterm election results by Year
Orange County, FL
Amer. Indian- 980
Amer. Indian- 2130
One solution to poor voter turnout during midterm election years has been a grassroots strategy candidates have adopted since 2010: attack the President and the opposing party to gain national coverage. Then candidate for Governor Rick Scott used this tactic when campaigning in the 2010 mid term elections by verbally attacking the Obama administration and its policies, which he then linked with his Democratic rival Alex Sink. He adopted a similar strategy when he ran for gubernatorial reelection in 2014 against former Governor Charlie Crist.
Another strategy has been employed at supervisor of elections office through advertising the importance of voting on local AM and FM stations.